Trees are a wise investment for Syracuse’s future (Your Letters)

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To the Editor:

Mayor Ben Walsh is a leader that supports investments in our city today and for the future. An investment of $2 million in our urban forestry with the planting of 3,600 trees will improve the quality of life for our current and future residents (”$2 million for trees? Why Syracuse is spending stimulus money on its urban forest,” Aug. 2, 2021).

Trees are an important part of every community. They contribute to our environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, mitigating the impact of climate change, conserving water and moderating temperature changes. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen that we breathe. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has suggested that “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and produces four tons of oxygen.”

Trees help to moderate our urban climate by keeping things cool in summer and warmer in the winter. In the winter they help screen us from harsh wind and shield us from rain, sleet and hail.

Our urban trees help intercept UV light which is a component of sunlight that can cause cancer and cataracts. The interception of small particles, ozone and other pollutants help to mitigate respiratory diseases and acute cardiac and pulmonary incidents. The U.S. Forest Service has estimated that our urban trees and forests “are saving 850 human lives a year and prevent 670,000 incidents of acute respiratory symptoms. Much of this study was conducted by the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station located at ESF and supported by the faculty at ESF. The research also estimated that our trees and forests in the US removed 17.4 million tons of air pollution in 2010.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was a very strong advocate for our forestry resources, “Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”

Let’s support this modest long term investment in our quality of life. Let’s support the vision and insight of our mayor.

Cornelius B. Murphy Jr., Ph.D.


The writer is president emeritus of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

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