Dear policymakers, landowners, developers and citizens of Catawba County: Our community needs trees.
It seems that every time I leave my home (which, admittedly, is less frequently these days) I notice large swaths of land that have been cleared or majestic old trees that have been felled. Rarely do I notice trees that have been planted to replace those that have been cut down.
Not only do trees provide us with clean air, but they provide local wildlife like birds and squirrels with spaces in which they can coexist with us humans, who have already claimed so much of their habitat for our own use.
If you value your ability to breathe clean air and want your children and grandchildren to grow up in a world imbued with the richness of biodiversity, please think twice before cutting down trees on your property or selling your land to developers who seek to profit at the expense of the natural world.
Consider the long-term value of native trees and the local wildlife that depends on them versus the value of the housing that is so often constructed in their place. Fifty years from now, housing built today will likely have fallen into a state of disrepair. But imagine how many generations of wildlife those trees could have supported and how much carbon they could have absorbed during that same time frame.
A tree can grow for centuries before reaching its mature height, but it can be cut down in a matter of hours. Of course there are valid reasons to cut down trees. It might be necessary to remove trees that threaten buildings. Some trees are invasive species that do more harm than good to local ecosystems. But if you must cut down a tree, plant another in its place -- preferably a native tree that will thrive in our area and provide maximum benefit to wildlife.
If we as a community do not protect our local ecosystems, we risk losing the plants and animals that make Catawba County special. Who profits when a tree is cut down? A handful of people might benefit, but the land we share is irreversibly altered and vulnerable local creatures lose places of refuge. When native trees are left to grow undisturbed, the human and animal residents of our community will reap the rewards of cleaner air and a healthier local ecosystem for generations to come.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!