We’re Number One!

In losing trees, that is.

According to a study done by LawnStarter, California leads the nation in deforestation.

LawnStarter compared the 50 states and District of Columbia across eight key metrics and over four time periods to determine where tree cover has shrunk most. They found that California led significantly over second-place Oregon in overall ranking, one-year, five-year and ten-year rankings.

Our ignominious accomplishment was described by LawnStarter in this way: “California not only ranked No. 1 overall among the States That Lost the Most Tree Cover, but it also swept every single metric.”

Now, don’t start cheering. Fire was described as a leading cause of tree loss in 2020, resulting from our worst wildfire season ever, “destroying some of its oldest green giants: redwoods, sequoias (sic.) and Joshua trees. California wildfires ravaged over 4 million acres – an area bigger than Connecticut – accounting for 40% of the total acres burned across the U.S.

“California lost more tree canopy than any other state in every time period we logged, mostly due to wildfires but also to drought and pests.” LawnStarter’s press announcement reported.

Why this matters is that the world is losing trees fast. The U.S. is no different. “Between 2009 and 2014, U.S. cities and rural communities collectively lost 36 million trees, per year.” LawnStarter translates that to the equivalent of saving “$96 million annually by lowering our energy bills, cleaning the air and capturing harmful carbon that contributes to climate change.”

Sadly, 2020 may not be California’s record year for wildfire. It could well be in front of us, as this is a drought year with barren reservoirs and high levels of evaporation already recorded.

Being number one in this category is an achievement we ought not celebrate.

Photo credit: B Street, Arcata (12/5/20) Michelle Pontoni