Are any other citizens of Duluth bothered by the amount of deforestation going on? In my infrequent drives around the city, it seems like we’re losing a lot of forested land to new businesses, new apartment buildings, new parking lots, new hospital buildings, and new single-family dwellings.

I have begun reading Douglas W. Tallamy’s 2019 book, “Nature’s Best Hope,” and I must say, he makes a powerful and convincing case, even in just the first chapter, for not “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” With all the attention being given to climate change in recent years, one would think we would be questioning how much more forest we can afford to cut down. It’s not just tropical rainforests that need to be preserved.

Our forested spaces, even just the small stands of pines, birches, maples, and poplars scattered throughout our fair city, are significant features that cannot easily be replaced. We are lucky to have as much as we do, admittedly. But that does not mean we can squander trees that do not happen to be in Chester Park or along Amity Creek or any of the other sacred green spaces in Duluth.

In his opening treatment of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, Tallamy asks, “Where is our expression of an ethical relationship with the land and the life it supports when we fragment forests to add another housing development, pave more roads, seed a new sterile lawn, build another shopping mall or expand another airport (or hospital!)?”

Planting new trees is fine, but trees take time to grow and to begin processing the carbon we continue to blithely spew out into our air. It’s time to start saving our trees, not cutting down more of them.

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Phil Fitzpatrick


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