Climate Change Threatens Trees in Cities Extreme changes of temperature, water, and invasive pests due to climate change exacerbate challenge for trees in urban environments causing accelerating canopy loss. Scientists hope to offset this with assisted migration of non-invasive species.

Climate Change Threatens Trees in Cities

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

The last summer in Seattle was the driest on record. And after the record breaking heat dome in 2021, the city’s trees are showing worrying signs of last ditch efforts to reproduce and survive, the AP reported.

This echoes problems that have been occurring in cities all over the country as a 2018 study found that over 25 states have seen significant tree decline in the last 10 years. The problem is particularly acute in cities where housing, commercial construction, compacted soil, and pollution contribute to a tree’s tenuous chance at survival.

Extreme swings in temperature, moisture, wind and other atmospheric factors, all due to climate change, exacerbate an already difficult situation for urban trees, explained David Nowak, a retired scientist for the U.S. Forest Service. Unfortunately, this vulnerability is occurring even as it becomes more important to provide tree cover in cities to offset the urban “heat island” effect.

Cities have been investing more money for planting more trees for their carbon-absorbing effects as well as to combat the heat. However, as conditions deteriorate, this has become harder to sustain with city budgets.

Nevertheless, efforts are being made to combat this problem. President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act tried to offset some of these problems by investing $1.5 billion for the Forest Service’s urban tree program. Meanwhile, scientists have looked to non-invasive, resilient trees like sequoias as candidates for “assisted migration” in an effort to shore up city canopy coverage.