Friday, October 1, 2010

local ecologist: Curating the Urban Cemetery as Bird Habitat

local ecologist: Curating the Urban Cemetery as Bird Habitat:
When we think about the urban forest, its street trees and parks that often first pop into mind as prime constituents. But there are other institutional land uses that contribute a great deal of square footage to the urban tree canopy. According to the 1994 study 'Chicago's Urban Forest Ecosystem: Results of the Chicago Urban Forest Climate Project', 49% of Chicago's 4.1 million trees at the time were on institutional land dominated by vegetation. This category includes parks, forest preserves, golf courses, and cemeteries. This study also found that the tree composition throughout Chicago was dominated by the pioneer species green ash (12.9%) and cottonwood (15.8%). While any type of tree canopy might contribute to the infrastructure tree benefits of stormwater retention, air pollution removal, energy reduction, etc. it's habitat value that really suffers from a as a lack of diversity of tree types and sizes. So, if one is going to improve urban forest structural composition, what better place to start than these institutional lands dominated by vegetation? And cemeteries, I think, are one of the most overlooked sources of potential urban habitat.

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