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​​Saving the Tree Canopy; How Each Resident Can Help

By Jan Lemasters

There has been a lot of talk and print given to "saving the tree canopy"  on the Golden Isles, and particularly Saint Simons Island. Whyhas this become a priority to citizens? How can or why should individual residents participate?

The tree canopy has long been the crowning glory of the Golden Isles. I suspect the vast stretches of treeless marshes surrounding the islands, beautiful in their own way, contribute to the enjoyment of the trees. In the early 1700's, settlers living on Saint Simons Island  relied on the live oak tree canopy as a place to worship. Before air conditioning, trees provided comfort from long, hot summers. (The cooling effect of a single healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day!)

Trees have always been important to the residents of the Golden Isles. So it comes as no surprise when many and, in some cases, all the trees are removed from large parcels of land, that residents are concerned and upset. Trees provide more than just beauty. Here are some facts that I found interesting about trees. You might too.

    Over 25 years, a tree can intercept 326,400 gallons of rainfall which will save  $2196 in preventing runoff.        
    A mature live oak provides over $8500 in improved air and water quality.

    A single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants per year.

    A mature tree canopy lowers the air temperature about 5-10 degrees F.

    For every 5% of tree cover added to a community, stormwater runoff is reduced 2%
    A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

    One large tree can provide provide a supply of oxygen for two people

   So with all the positive effects of trees on our environment, what can you do to save our tree canopy?

   Plant native trees on your property. 

   Keep your trees pruned. A tree with open branches is less likely to have damage from intense winds   

  Take a tree pruning class for proper techniques or check out

   Use mulch around the dirt at the tree base and avoid mowing around the tree base

   Mowing tree roots may damage the tree by making it vulnerable to disease.

    It is very harmful  to trees if heavy equipment or vehicles rest on their roots.  If having construction done,
    please insist that  the contractor  protect your trees.
   Let your County Commissioner know that preserving and enhancing the  tree canopy is important to you. New   
   tree ordinances that improve protection of the tree canopy will soon be voted on by the  Commissioners.
   Let them know you support these change and that they need to be enforced. 

   They can be reached at

If you have large live oak trees (9 feet or larger in circumference), on your property, they can be registered with the 

Live Oak Society. Golden Isles Fund for Trees can help register and measure your tree.
Become a good stewart of this lovely place in which we reside. Protecting our canopy in good for us and those who will         
choose to make the Golden Isles their home in years to come.