Telegram & Gazette: 'After beetles and bulldozers, new urban forest emerges in Holden'

June 14, 2016
HERO (Human-Environment Regional Observatory) Fellows for 2016 at Clark University

Five student researchers in Clark University's Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) program are checking the health of trees replanted by the Worcester Tree Initiative in Worcester, Holden and other towns after the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) invasion, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports. Meanwhile, John Rogan, associate professor of geography at Clark, told the newspaper some surprising news regarding the loss of trees in the area.

Here is an excerpt:

" 'While Asian longhorned beetle and tree-cover loss was connected, throughout the city and into Shrewsbury and the Boylstons, urban expansion was double the loss of tree cover,' said John Rogan, an associate professor of geography at Clark University. 'The greatest impact (on tree cover) within the city and within the quarantine zone was what we would call business-as-usual expansion, and that kind of took us by surprise.'

The Telegram and Gazette noted that "while the ALB infestation may have been a wake-up call to the importance and value of the area's tree canopy, it also revealed major vulnerabilities within an urban forest that was not well-diversified (a 2006 inventory revealed 80 percent of street trees were maples) nor extensively monitored. Now as the infestation ebbs, academics and volunteers are working to correct these problems, ensuring the future tree canopy can withstand and/or recover from beetles as well as bulldozers. ...

"Carrying a map, 10-foot poles, measuring tape and data sheets, Mr. Rogan’s students in the Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) program visited yards on Mohave Road in Worcester's Indian Hill neighborhood last week to check on trees distributed by the DCR [Department of Conservation and Recreation].

"The students spent about three minutes once they found each tree, recording information such as the tree's condition, size, species and location.

" 'We come across a lot of weed-whacker damage and stripped bark,' said Rishi Singh, 21, a senior at Clark.

" 'We even saw a tree that had some duct tape on it,' Emma Freud, 21, said.

"But even after just a few trees, it became clear that most — but not all — of the trees are in pretty good condition in that neighborhood," the Telegram and Gazette reported. "Mr. Rogan said the past two years of surveying has revealed about 20 to 22 percent mortality rate for trees planted around 2010-2011, which is similar to mortality rates in other cities."