The Lack of Sustainability by not Replacing Dead or Hazard Trees in United States Midwestern Cities

By Charles Wade and James Kielbaso.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

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Our research shows that the average dbh has increased significantly over the years. As trees die or are removed for being hazards, they are not being replaced. Therefore, there are fewer trees in the urban forest.
The dbh (diameter at breast height, about 1.5 meters) was measured and the trees were placed into size classes: (1) 5.08 to 10.16 cm. (2 to 4 inches), (2) 10.16 to 25.40 cm. (4 to 10 inches), (3) 25.40 to 40.64 cm. (10 to 16 inches), and (4) greater than 40.64 cm. (16 inches).
Between 1980 and 2005, our research shows that there was a 51% loss of the small trees in the urban forest, both public and private trees. Many of the original trees are still there. They have grown and are larger. When we compare the percentage of small trees in the urban forest in 1980 (59%) to the percentage of small trees in 2005 (25%), the urban forest has a loss of 34% of small trees. The conclusion is that urban trees die or are hazards no matter what size they are. For sustainability, we need to be replacing them, and these replacements are small trees.

Keywords: Urban Tree Sustainability, Urban Forest, Ecology, Urban Tree

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 9, Issue 4, December 2014, pp.61-67. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 530.918KB).

Dr. Charles Wade

Professor, Division of Science and Math, C.S. Mott Community College, Flint, Michigan, USA

Dr. Charles A. Wade (Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2010) is a professor of biology at C.S. Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan. The appointment includes the teaching of lecture and laboratory classes, such as General Biology (Non-Science Majors), Applied Botany, Environmental Science, General Botany, Michigan Flora, Local Trees and Shrubs, General Ecology and Field Biology, over a two year period. His research interests include urban forest ecology, urban ecosystem services, changes in the urban forests over time, and the sustainability of urban forest vegetation. He is also interested in helping educate people on the selection of the correct tree for the desired location as well as the health and conditions of the urban and peri-urban forests.

Dr. James Kielbaso

Professor Emeritus, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Dr. James Kielbaso retired in 2004 as professor emeritus in the Department of Forestry at Michigan State University. He taught arboriculture and urban forestry courses among many others at Michigan State for 38 years. He also conducted research on topics such as improving compacted soils for planting, the status of street trees nationally, management practices of U.S. urban foresters, and herbicide use by U.S. utilities and social attitudes toward neighborhood trees. He has served on the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council, the International Society of Arboriculture’s Board of Directors and the Michigan Forestry and Park Association’s Board of Directors. He received a Bachelor degree from University of Dayton and Master degree and doctorate in forestry from Michigan State University.