When it comes to water quality and conservation, Wesley Horner, senior advisor at the Brandywine conservancy, says trees are tops. “The forest is by far the optimal land cover,” said Horner. “The more forest, the better off you are in terms of water resources.” So, to keep the watershed healthy, the conservancy is planting more of them.
It plans to plant 25,000 trees in the Brandywine watershed by 2013. Five thousand of those will be planted this month in Delaware and Chester counties, starting this weekend.
And in the Knolls of Birmingham community in Chester County, they’re literally doing it in residents’ backyards–taking up space now covered with lawns.
“People like the look of lawn,” said Horner, “so it takes them some getting used to imagine a fully matured forest.” Because these trees are young when they’re planted, they require deer screens–tubing that surrounds the tree trunks to protect them from wildlife. “We don’t like the tubes. That’s life,” said Maureen Tibbs, president of the Knolls homeowner’s association. “But they’re there for a reason.” She and her fellow board members voted to allow the plantings, citing the long-term benefits–reduced maintenance costs, and no need for chemicals and pesticides that end up in nearby rivers and streams. “We knew we were going to be the first homeowners association to agree to this,” said Tibbs. “It’s changing the topography right now, however you have to kind of look forward to how it’s going to look in hopefully five or ten years.”