It ain't easy being green
What can offset pollution, help prevent flooding and keep temperatures down? It's not a miracle, it's trees.
And yet, though Houston has long been plagued by these issues, the city and surrounding region have lost a significant amount of tree cover in recent years. According to a new Center for Houston's Future report,
"Additional data on tree canopy shows that the region continues to lose significant tree cover, though at a somewhat slower rate than between 1992 and 2000. In the Houston region [of Harris, Ft. Bend and Montgomery counties] between 1992 and 2005, 680 square miles of tree canopy was lost, primarily due to new development. Six-hundred and eighty square miles is roughly the size of the city of Houston. Since 2005 the region experienced Hurricane Ike which literally decimated the tree population on Galveston Island. The island lost many of its 100-year-old live oaks, most of which were planted after the Great Storm of 1900."
Luckily, the news isn't all bad: since 2000, the rate of decline has slowed and government and civic organizations planted over one million trees between 2000-2008. The land area of trees lost per year has shrunk from 107.7 square miles in 1996 to 22 square miles in 2005. Organizations and campaigns including the Texas Department of Transportation's Green Ribbon Fund, Harris County Flood Control District, and Trees for Houston have been instrumental in trying to make green Houston a priority.
Call us tree-huggers, but we think that's good news.