Neighbors and nature lovers will join together April 27 to plant more than 100 native trees and shrubs at Harwood Park in celebration of Arbor Day and Earth Day. The fifth annual planting day is a continuation of the village effort to restore its wetlands.

In conjunction with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Trees for Tribs program, the Village of Scarsdale and the Friends of the Scarsdale Parks secured native trees and shrubs for the 11-acre park along the South Fox Meadow Brook. The brook, which runs along Brewster Road and frequently floods the parking lots at the high school, is part of the Bronx River watershed system that feeds into the East River in New York City and the Long Island Sound.

The annual planting day is part of a comprehensive watershed restoration project designed to preserve and protect Scarsdale’s ecosystems, water quality, tree canopy and wildlife. More than 1,000 trees have been added to the area since the planting effort began in 2014.

We applaud this effort to preserve vital natural resources.

Each year we notice disconcerting changes becoming commmonplace. Ponds freeze solid less often. There is more flooding. Trees uproot or lose branches in increasingly frequent and powerful windstorms.

In a guest column in the Inquirer’s sister paper, the Record-Review, Lori Ensinger, president of Westchester Land Trustpoints out the 2018 National Climate Assessment and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Study — among others — have shown climate change is accelerating faster than was projected even five years ago and it is imperative that every government, organization and individual work together to curb it now.

We agree with Ensinger’s assertion that “the debate over whether humans created the problem is not productive and only serves to divide and demonize,” and “humans play a significant, if not paramount role in mitigating it.”

Focusing on strategies to reduce emissions is all well and good, but it’s even more important to preserve trees and other plants that capture the emissions, Ensinger said. Trees and shrubs not only play a part in the process of carbon sequestration, which means they absorb carbon from the atmosphere, they also provide priceless benefits such as mitigating flooding and preserving biodiversity.

In our region of the country, Ensinger said, an average acre of forest stores about 100 tons of carbon (roughly equivalent to the amount emitted by driving 250,000 miles in the average passenger car), and as trees grow, that amount increases each year.

“A healthy wetland can store many times that amount of carbon in its sediment-rich layers,” she said, citing the U.S. Geological Survey which estimated carbon sequestration offsets 30 percent of our country’s carbon emissions every year.

“So, while reducing reliance on fossil fuels is absolutely critical, not preserving our existing natural sequestration arsenal (our woodlands, wetlands and meadows) is a bit like trying to walk up a down escalator. You are taking steps, but you aren’t moving forward very efficiently,” she said.

Through its annual planting event, the village is actively protecting land and contributing to a natural solution to pollution while preserving our green spaces.

We applaud Scarsdale for taking action to preserve and replant Harwood Park, making our neck of the woods a bit more climate-resilient.

“The ticking climate clock is a wake-up call for everyone,” Ensinger said. “We must join forces to embrace all strategies available to us. Preserving land that mitigates climate change while providing a host of collateral public benefits is one of the most cost-effective weapons that a community can deploy in this battle.”

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