Green is the buzzword of the 21st century. Businesses and governments everywhere endeavor to pursue green practices in an effort to preserve Earth’s fragile natural world and her limited resources.
A lot of people try to live green as well, but beyond recycling and
buying sustainable products and packaging most either know not what to
do or don’t care to, figuring they’ve done their part to save the
Maybe that’s because we can’t see the forest through the trees. In all
of the aforementioned cases, green is looked at as the other green
(money) and it is nothing more than an economic transaction.
One’s efforts – or the cumulative efforts of a company or community -
are traceable to inputs and outputs, revenues and expenses, savings and
costs. Even most carbon footprint calculations are based in economic
Rarely do we look past the dollar and focus on what being green is
really all about: Mother Nature. If you truly want to have an effect on
the environment, you don’t focus solely on what you can take from it.
Instead, focus on giving back to it. It’s kind of like a modified
version of the old JFK axiom: Ask not what your environment can do for
you — ask what you can do for your environment.
It doesn’t have to be some life-changing event. You don’t have to become
a real-life Tarzan, one with the jungle. You don’t have to abandon the
comforts of human progress. No, it’s really quite simple and requires
you only to get your hands dirty. There is no better and easier way to
help the biosphere than by planting trees.
You can start with your own property. The Niagara Frontier is in a state
of flux, its once predominantly agrarian landscape is changing before
our eyes. Many long-time family farms have done one of three things over
recent years: They’ve been consumed by larger farms, they’ve been
allowed to revert to woodlands, or they’ve been transformed into an
extension of Erie County’s northern suburbs.
In the last two scenarios, the arborist within you could make a
significant impact on the health of the environment by aiding Mother
Nature in her attempt to reclaim what was once hers and transform our
region to a semblance of the great forest that it was before the white
As the fields remain fallow, you could speed up the reclamation process,
one that can take decades where the cover develops from weeds to shrubs
to small short-lived trees to tall long-lived trees. To do so, you
could plant saplings en masse and manage the area as a woodlot, even a
small forest, focusing on trees of the deciduous and coniferous sort
that thrive in the type of soil found on your spread, trees that will be
of benefit to bird and beast.
In regard to growth of suburbia, the barren lawns can be appropriately
transformed not through gardening and normal landscaping but rather via
natural landscaping whereby trees and shrubs native to the region are
introduced, much to the benefit of the wildlife and even the homeowner
(it takes far less effort to grow a plant fit for this climate and
soils). A wooded lawn is more attractive — and far more environmentally
beneficial — than any flowered lawn.
The resources are there for you to do this and cheaply at that, thanks to the efforts of Niagara County.
The Niagara County Soil and Water District’s annual seedling sale is
underway now through March 13th. Through this program you can buy
bundles of seedlings (18” or less in height) of any one of almost three
dozen species of trees and shrubs.
It’s an extremely popular program as quite often the County sells 60,000
seedlings per year. Why so popular? They are incredibly affordable ...
most seedlings are available for under $1 each.
The seedlings will be available for pick-up at the Niagara County
fairgrounds in late-April, allowing you to plant them at the best time
of the year. You can download an order form at their website www.niagaraswcd.com.
The form also features a detailed data sheet that can help you choose
the trees that are best for the applications you desire while telling
you how and where to plant them.
If you’d like to really save the environment – and not go through the
motions - take the time to do it this spring. Planting trees and shrubs
is a simple, completely natural way to be green. As your yard or forest
grows you’ll be able to admire — and in some cases maybe even eat — the
fruits of your labor for years to come.
Bob Confer lives in rural Gasport, where he has planted dozens of
Niagara County’s seedlings over the years. Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the 15 January 2015 East Niagara Post