Climate Trees: Trees for the 21st Century – Part 3

This is the third and final part of our “Climate Trees” series. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Climate Trees
FOT Lane County Director Erik Burke (Jessyca Burke)

The first of the Tier 2 “climate trees” (California black oak, valley oak, coast live oak, interior live oak, blue oak, and Chinese pistache) were planted at Friends of Trees’ Feb. 9, 2013 planting in Eugene’s Friendly Neighborhood. In the 2013-14 planting season, FOT will increase Tier 2 offerings, adding holly oak, cork oak, canyon live oak, California buckeye, and crape myrtle. On February 24, an arboretum of “climate trees” was planted by the city contractor in the parking lot of Sheldon High School.

Tier 2 trees have been difficult or impossible to source at a reasonable price until now, and there has been little or no local demand for them. FOT is working to improve both the supply of these Tier 1 and Tier 2 trees, and to increase the demand for them through education, outreach and incentives. To increase supply, FOT is talking with nurseries about the potential of these trees, and working on agreements with nurseries to grow the trees locally from appropriate seed sources while minimizing cost and risk to the nurseries.

Climate Trees
Just beginning (Jessyca Burke)

FOT is also working to identify the provenance or source of all the trees we offer, and to identify appropriate provenance for seed and nursery stock for future trees. The long-term solution to the problem of provenance is to produce trees in local nurseries from diverse, known and well-sourced provenances. FOT has purchased liners (small trees) of several species and entered into relationships with a local nursery to begin growing southwest Oregon and California native trees for street trees for Eugene and Springfield.

We play God with every tree we plant. This imbues our work with responsibility. We are working hard to offer trees that are grown locally with known provenance, are adapted to our climate and soils, and are sited so they can provide beauty and benefits for generations. With your help FOT can build local demand for trees that will thrive in the long run in our cities and build a strong base of skilled, informed consumers, producers and stewards who will tend our trees into the future.

–Burke is Director of FOT Lane County

Climate Trees: Trees for the 21st Century – Part 2

This is a continuation of “Climate Trees: Trees for the 21st Century.” You can read Part 1 here.

Climate Trees
Pyramidal European Hornbeam (FOT file)

FOT’s Lane County chapter developed a provisional three-tier list of trees that are likely to be resilient to climate change and tolerate heat and drought well to help prioritize planting efforts.

Tier 1 trees are top priority to plant. They are heat and drought tolerant trees that we can plant now, trees already on local approved street tree lists. Of the more than 100 trees on local approved lists, we found 16 trees that we feel are climate resilient, but only four that we can source and receive easy approval to plant locally. These are Oregon white oak, silver linden, red horsechestnut, and European hornbeam. FOT has made major strides at increasing planting of Oregon white oaks on Eugene streets.

Other Tier 1 trees are conifers that local municipalities restrict completely or limit planting to rare 20 foot planting strips, such as Atlas cedar, incense cedar, giant sequoia, deodar cedar, valley ponderosa, and Douglas-fir. Several additional Tier 1 trees are difficult or impossible to source currently, such as sawtooth oak, Hungarian oak, Shumards oak, and burr oak.

South Eugene, Feb. 9, 2013
The first trees from the Climate Tree program were planted in Eugene on Feb. 9, 2013 (Marcus Kauffman)

Tier 2 trees are trees that are used as street trees in urban areas in the western US with success are likely to thrive here, but are not on current local approved street tree lists. These include Oregon natives such as California black oak, canyon live oak, Oregon myrtle, and California natives such as coast live oak, interior live oak, blue oak, and valley oak. Other Tier 2 species include chitalpa, crape myrtle, cork oak, holly oak, silverleaf oak, oracle oak, cedar of Lebanon, Spanish fir, Chinese pistache, strawberry tree, and southern live oak.

Tier 3 trees are trees that are rarely or not used as street trees but are heat and drought tolerant and good candidates for experimentation in our area. These include California buckeye, madrone, Japanese chinkapin, Cretan maple, western redbud, and roble beech.

Inspired by FOT’s talks in September 2012, the City of Eugene Office of Sustainability funded two efforts to expand the use of climate resilient trees in Eugene and to create working examples. The Sustainability Office provided funding to FOT to purchase and offer several Tier 2 trees in its Neighborhood Trees program, and to conduct outreach and education efforts about these trees. FOT is currently offering California black oak, valley oak, coast live oak, interior live oak, blue oak, and Chinese pistache.

Click here to read Part 3 of the Climate Tree series.

–Burke is Director of FOT Lane County


Climate Trees: Trees for the 21st Century – Part 1

By Erik Burke

This is the first in a three-part series about Friends of Trees’ new Climate Tree Program, initiated in the Eugene-Springfield area during the 2012-13 planting season.

The times they are a changing—for people and trees. Humans are changing the earth’s climate, and many of the trees we plant in our cities are unlikely to fare well in these changing conditions.

Climate Trees
Eugene's first Climate Trees, planted in the Friendly Neighborhood in Feb. 2013

It’s not clear how climate will change in western Oregon. It’s very likely that there will be significant changes in temperature and precipitation, with temperature perhaps rising over the next 40-50 years so that temperature in Eugene-Springfield is similar to areas in northern California.

Changes in precipitation are less clear, as is whether we will see radical changes in ocean currents or the eastern Pacific high pressure system that gives us our annual summer drought. Cities like Chicago are changing the trees they plant in public areas, replacing the trees they have been planting with trees from warmer climates around 500 miles south.

To begin to address these issues, on September 14, 2012, Friends of Trees organized two talks on the topic of “Trees for Eugene-Springfield’s 21st Century Urban Forest.” I presented an initial tree list developed locally to guide species selection. This discussion of trees for the 21st Century is not solely about climate-resilient trees. It is also about shifting the approach to planting trees from an emphasis on ornament and profit, to an emphasis on trees that are more resilient and locally adapted, and provide more ecological services than many currently planted species.

FOT Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist Kris Day, from FOT’s Portland office, and Jim Gersbach, longtime Friends of Trees volunteer, gave presentations on their work to identify drought-tolerant trees that thrive in our area, plant them, and monitor their success over time. Kris and Jim are part of a Portland-based project called Tomorrow’s Urban Forest (TUF) whose goal is to develop a better understanding of which species of trees are likely to thrive and which are likely to struggle in the Willamette Valley given a warmer and possibly drier future climate.

A major factor for tree selection in the Eugene-Springfield area is the area’s annual summer drought. Significant rainfall rarely occurs locally from late May through September, limiting which trees thrive here without irrigation.

Climate Trees
Oregon white oak Heritage Tree in NW Portland (Teri Ruch)

Tree assemblages of the warm period in the area’s history, from 6-10,000 years ago, such as Oregon white oak, valley ponderosa, and incense cedar, are likely to be particularly suited to our area in the 21st century. Trees from northern California are likely to be heat and drought tolerant in our area. Trees from other regions with similar summer dry climate patterns to ours are more likely to thrive in our area than trees from summer wet areas. This means that the best regions to choose trees from that are likely to thrive in our cities are western North America, southern Europe, north Africa, southwestern Australia, and south-central South America.

Given these facts, FOT Lane County developed a provisional three-tier list of trees that are likely to be resilient to climate change and tolerate heat and drought well to help prioritize planting efforts.

Click here to read Part 2 of the Climate Trees series.

–Burke is Director of FOT Lane County


Friends of Trees Yard Signs!

Show Love For Your Tree!

Get a Friends of Trees Yard Sign

Do you have a tree from Friends of Trees in your yard or planting strip? We want to celebrate your tree and the benefits it provides with a beautiful yard sign! We designed these signs as part of a visibility campaign: We want people to know how important trees are to their communities, and to see the impact that Friends of Trees and its supporters have made throughout western Oregon and southwest Washington.

For now, we are only distributing yard signs to people who have a thriving tree from Friends of Trees, whether it was planted last year or 30 years ago. Think of it as your tree’s sign, rather than your own!

If you’re interested in receiving a yard sign, can you please fill out this survey!

After you fill out the survey, you’ll get instructions about how to receive your yard sign. We will have several pickup windows throughout the region.

Pickup available:

Saturday, Nov 5, Friends of Trees Cully planting event:
Trinity Lutheran Church, 5520 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97218
8am – noon


NE Portland – the Friends of Trees office
Front Porch pickup. 3117 NE MLK Jr Blvd, Portland 97212

North Portland
Front porch pickup. 2033 N Terry St, Portland 97217

Outer SE Portland
Front porch pickup. 7244 SE Insley St, Portland 97206

Help us tell the story of what happens when you plant trees The Friends of Trees Way. Planting a tree is taking climate action that keeps us healthy, because trees clean our air, shade our streets, and make our neighborhoods livable. When planted with the power of volunteers, trees grow community. And when planted in neighborhoods that need them the most, trees are climate justice.

If you have neighbors who have a Friends of Trees tree, and would like to help distribute yard signs, let us know!

We’re offering these yard signs for free, but we encourage you to donate to cover its cost if you are able! Click here to donate.

Let’s spread the word about why trees are amazing!

*These signs were printed locally on recyclable materials using methods that minimize waste. They’re made to last, and we hope folks who get a yard sign keep them up for some time! When you’re done with yours, we ask that you recycle it, or return it to us to reuse or recycle.