The Forest For The Trees
Thursday, April 16, 1998
"A tree is a tree--how many more do you need to look at?"
A report issued last week by the World Conservation Union detailing the results of its 20-year, international survey of plant diversity suggests that at least one out of every eight known plant species is threatened with extinction or nearly extinct.
The survey states that habitat destruction from agriculture, urban development, and the introduction of non-native species have caused approximately 34,000 species to face extinction.
Of the imperiled species cited in the report, 91 percent exist in no more than one country--all of which makes Ronald Reagan''s classic expression of environmental myopia frighteningly prophetic.
Here in Monterey County, the marked loss of natural habitat is a reflection of what is occurring throughout the world. Population growth and development continue to create tremendous pressures on the county''s signature tree populations--the Monterey Pines, Coast Redwoods and Valley Oaks. Although outright extinction seems unlikely, given the efforts being made by local scientists and researchers to preserve these native tree populations, there is no question that the marked loss of oaks, pines and redwoods has seriously degraded precious wildlife habitats.
In anticipation of Earth Day on April 22, Coast Weekly this week looks at the status of its unique tree populations to determine how healthy they really are and what threats, if any, they are facing from continued growth and development. Like the canary in the coal mine, the health of our trees is a prime indicator of the health of our entire ecosystem.
Although the prognosis is not especially good, the fact that we have become more aware and sensitized to the problem of tree loss and habitat destruction bodes well for the future.
Happy Earth Day--and save a tree.