Trees in Trouble: Saving America’s Urban Forests

About three years ago, Andrea Torrice, a local filmmaker, began filming a documentary covering the efforts of Cincinnati Parks’ own Urban Forestry team in their fight against the Emerald Ash Borer and other harmful insects. The Emerald Ash Borer targets ash trees and, because of this, there are only two hundred of the nearly five thousand ash trees remaining in the Cincinnati area. The documentary follows Dave Gamstetter and his team as they deal with the social and environmental impacts that these bugs bring, as well as the seemingly endless costs of solving this serious issue.

Many cities across the United States are now struggling with the Emerald Ash Borer and since Cincinnati has such a well-known program, it seemed like the perfect story. Once Torrice realized that Cincinnati is living the story she wanted to tell and that we had so many experienced experts on the matter, she decided to make her documentary about Cincinnati’s Urban Forestry Team and sent it off to PBS. The National PBS Network picked up the story and is due to air the documentary in the fall. According to Gamstetter, there is talk of creating a part two covering the Asian Longhorned Beetle.

Ever since the discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer in Cincinnati in 2007, it has been an uphill battle. Work started between 2008 and 2009 to begin tree removal and replacement. The Urban Forestry team is working to keep the insects quarantined to guarantee that they do not spread anymore than they already have. However, the Emerald Ash Borer has rapidly spread through Ohio and is also reaching much of the eastern parts of the United States; therefore, it is a much more expansive task than anyone could have anticipated.

This is an important issue because these bugs are harming our trees and putting citizens’ health in danger. It is extremely dangerous because infected trees have the potential to fall. Due to this danger, about one third to one half of the Cincinnati Park trails have been closed. Also, recent studies suggest that having fewer trees has a negative impact on human health. Studies show an increase of cardiovascular and lower respiratory deaths in countries that have the Emerald Ash Borer.

Street trees show many benefits to the community, they create shade and windbreak to help with cooling and heating issues, they play a role in helping with stormwater runoff, reduce erosion, and much more. Not only that, but they are aesthetically pleasing. With so many benefits to the community and about ten percent of our tree population being affected, this is an expensive issue that cannot be ignored.

The Urban Forestry team’s goal is to remove all of the infected trees and plant new trees in their place in order to stop the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer and keep the air clean. The only thing that can be done to fix this issue is to replace the trees – which comes at a cost. At the sneak preview screenings of “Trees in Trouble” on Thursday, November 5 at the 20th Century Theater, proceeds will be used to support the Cincinnati Park Board’s Urban Forestry team as they work to replace all of the ash trees.

EVENT INFORMATION
When: Thursday, November 5th at 7PM
Location: 20th Century Theater
3021 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH
Ticket Price: $25, open to the General Public

Click here to purchase tickets for the Thursday, November 5 Preview