Magazine article American Forests

A Pro-Business Case for Hugging Trees

Magazine article American Forests

A Pro-Business Case for Hugging Trees

Article excerpt

It is San Antonio's longest running and most vital political war. It's not Democrats versus Republicans or conservatives versus liberals. It is environmentalists versus developers.

And it is a shame.

The latest battle is over trees. A committee was appointed, roughly half developers and half environmentalists, and told to come to consensus on a proposal for an ordinance that would save trees without unduly hampering development.

There appears to be a stalemate, which likely means no tree ordinance will be enacted. This is a fight we don't need to have.

I don't say this because everybody ought to be a tree hugger. I say it because trees, like good environmental planning, are good for the economy. They are good for business, and they are good for the consumer.

Nationally, this is not a revelation. The National Association of Homebuilders got together with a national group called AMERICAN FORESTS and produced a book with the enlightening title: Building Greener Neighborhoods: Trees as Part of the Plan. The book presents powerful arguments for the preservation and planting of trees. If business leaders understood these arguments, they would join with environmentalists and create an ethic so strong that tree ordinances wouldn't be controversial.

The agreement between the homebuilders and AMERICAN FORESTS was based partly on scientific studies on the effects of the loss of trees. Especially instructive is a study AMERICAN FORESTS did on the city of Atlanta. The study tracked the city's development from 1972 through 1993. During that period, about 65 percent of what had been trees and forests was converted to a built environment. The result is a dramatic increase in what is known as the "urban heat island" effect.

In 1972, the temperatures at Hartsfield International Airport were 3 to 6 degrees higher than the surrounding countryside. …

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