Those trees lining the streets of Eugene are more than just urban decoration. They could help the city deal with climate change. Friends of Trees (FOT) is an organization that brings people together to plant and care for trees and green spaces. The group hopes to begin a community-wide conversation about creating a resilient urban canopy to help mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. This will be the topic of discussion at an event, “Trees for Eugene and Springfield’s 21st Century Urban Forest,” hosted by FOT and the city of Eugene’s Office of Sustainability. The event will be from 7 to 9 pm Friday, Sept. 14, at the Atrium Building’s Sloat Room, 99 W. 10th Ave.
“We don’t really know what the change is going to be,” says Erik Burke, director of the FOT Eugene-Springfield chapter. He says some studies predict the local climate to eventually be more like that of Sacramento, but nothing is definite. “Most of us don’t know that much yet. We don’t know what the models are, we don’t know what we should be doing, so we’re trying to get people together to think about this,” Burke says.
The event will feature talks from guest speakers Jim Gersbach and Kris Day of the Portland-based group Tomorrow’s Urban Forest. Gersbach, a longtime FOT volunteer, will speak about the importance of hardy, drought-tolerant trees in cities’ response to climate change. Day, an FOT staffer, will focus on the need for experimentation and monitoring of climate-appropriate trees.
“If you’re interested in trees, vegetation, climate change and the health of our city and our urban forest I think it will be a really interesting discussion,” Burke says, “I’m hoping it leads to moving us forward in taking better care of our urban forest.”
See friendsoftrees.org for more information.