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The trees that make Southern California shady and green are dying (latimes.com)
71 points by MilnerRoute on Apr 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

'urban forests are suffering partly because “so many of the trees we grow don’t belong here and aren’t sustainable without plentiful supplies of imported water.”

“Historic photos of the region show coastal shrubs, oaks on the foothills and sycamores along streams and rivers,” he said. “Yet, we planted way too many trees from areas that get two to three times as much rain as we do.”'

What may be worrying is if these drought-stressed trees are cultivating an artificially high population of pests that will then put added stress on the sustainable population of native drought-tolerant trees.

Broadscale keyline design would greatly improve water retention in California:


I've done this in areas on my property and in two years I can already see new clovers outcompeting old cactus.

Absolutely. I've help design a few desolate properties and seen amazing results with simple keyline swales. Broad scale is definitely possible with simple machinery. Help trap and absorb some rainfall and you're off to the right start.

The article seems to center more around pests than just drought:

> There will be no miraculous recovery of these urban ecosystems after the beetles are done with them.

> ...If we cannot control the shot hole borer, it will kill all the sycamores in California.

Less money for megabombs and more money for environment?

Sounds like the sensible way to me.

But this "environment" is entirely artificial.

Yes, isn't it? Much of California was a barren desert before cultivated by Europeans. It's not like it used to be one big forest before the Europeans settled.

You're right that it was never a big forest, but it was never much of a barren desert either. The biome type is chaparral.

No it wasn't, there is a big desert but much was grassland, coastal shrubs, scattered trees in the foothills and forests in the mountains.


I grant that we talk about very different ecosystems but we should not forget that both Redwood species are exclusive from this area.

That's the cloud forests of Northern California. Southern California isn't a true desert, but the largest things you'll find are mostly scrub.

Imagine keeping the huge defence budget, but using it to plant and irrigate massive forests.

Americans would enjoy a better life and would have more money for spending in luxuries (Because their air conditioning bill in summer would be much smaller and winter is not so harsh with some extra wood and a chimney). More people buying things and travelling, less danger of recession (and more money for the people that sells hotel rooms, for example).

And the additional emissions from air conditioning, retail product manufacturing, and travel would raise CO2 levels even higher?

We need to develop an ecologically aware definition of quality of living, rather than one that prioritizes extracting value for humans from a supposedly separate source of natural resources.

Not necessarily, because more forests equals to less CO2 in the air. Is a well known fact that trees store carbon atoms and water. Army activities on the other hand release also lots of CO2 (and much worst things like deplected Uranium) to the environment.

Sounds like the Civilian Conservation Corps, which I believe actually caused massive habitat destruction due to draining wetlands. There are diminishing returns to these sort of projects, especially if you don't want to bulldoze the houses that have been built where forests used to thrive naturally.

I have high doubts that you could spend the whole DoD budget productively.

Meanwhile, it would also:

- Remove spending equivalent to 3.5% of US GDP, causing a recession.

- Create a power vacuum that nations would war over as they rushed to fill it.

Ironically, it was the defense industry - not Hollywood - that initiated Southern California's ascention to an economic juggernaut.

I know a few arborists. This is generally the cycle:

1. There is a tree problem.

2. Muni orders some sort of study after the problem has become unassailable.

3. Arborist performs a study, finds lack of naturalized species, lack of diversity, lack of appropriately spaced trees.

4. Muni throws their hands up in the air because money and keeps doing the wrong things.

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