We wanted to share with you all that we nominated the tree, so at least there will be a record somewhere of its existence.
The reply email from AmericanForest.org:
Thank you for your nomination of Tree-of-heaven AILANTHUS (Ailanthus altissima) on June 23, 2016 to American Forests’ National Register of Big Trees. Your tree scores a total of 200.75 points with a circumference of 107 inches, height of 81 feet and average crown spread of 51 feet. We have recorded the details about your tree and will consider it for inclusion in the next National Register.
Founded in 1940, the National Big Tree program is a conservation movement to locate, appreciate and protect the biggest trees of their species in the United States. The Big Tree program is active in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and is used as a model for several Big Tree programs around the world.
By working with volunteer coordinators and big tree hunters throughout the country, American Forests certifies that trees in the register are the largest of their species. It is because of nominators like you that we were able to list more than 750 grand champion trees last year, and we hope to include even more individual tree species in our next edition.
Your 34 inch Trunk Diameter Tree of heaven will intercept 14,151 gallons of stormwater runoff this year.
Urban stormwater runoff (or “non-point source pollution”) washes chemicals (oil, gasoline, salts, etc.) and litter from surfaces such as roadways and parking lots into streams, wetlands, rivers and oceans. The more impervious the surface (e.g., concrete, asphalt, rooftops), the more quickly pollutants are washed into our community waterways. Drinking water, aquatic life and the health of our entire ecosystem can be adversely effected by this process.
Trees act as mini-reservoirs, controlling runoff at the source. Trees reduce runoff by:
Intercepting and holding rain on leaves, branches and bark
Increasing infiltration and storage of rainwater through the tree’s root system
Reducing soil erosion by slowing rainfall before it strikes the soil
Your 34 inch Trunk Diameter Tree of heaven will conserve 291 Kilowatt hours of electricity for cooling and reduce consumption of oil or natural gas by 8 therm(s).
Trees modify climate and conserve building energy use in three principal ways (see figure at left):
Shading reduces the amount of heat absorbed and stored by buildings.
Evapotranspiration converts liquid water to water vapor and cools the air by using solar energy that would otherwise result in heating of the air.
Tree canopies slow down winds thereby reducing the amount of heat lost from a home, especially where conductivity is high (e.g., glass windows).
Strategically placed trees can increase home energy efficiency. In summer, trees shading east and west walls keep buildings cooler. In winter, allowing the sun to strike the southern side of a building can warm interior spaces. If southern walls are shaded by dense evergreen trees there may be a resultant increase in winter heating costs.
Air pollution is a serious health threat that causes asthma, coughing, headaches, respiratory and heart disease, and cancer. Over 150 million people live in areas where ozone levels violate federal air quality standards; more than 100 million people are impacted when dust and other particulate levels are considered “unhealthy.” We now know that the urban forest can mitigate the health effects of pollution by:
Absorbing pollutants like ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide through leaves
Intercepting particulate matter like dust, ash and smoke
Releasing oxygen through photosynthesis
Lowering air temperatures which reduces the production of ozone
Reducing energy use and subsequent pollutant emissions from power plants
It should be noted that trees themselves emit biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) which can contribute to ground-level ozone production. This may negate the positive impact the tree has on ozone mitigation for some high emitting species (e.g. Willow Oak or Sweetgum). However, the sum total of the tree’s environmental benefits always trumps this negative.
This year your 34 inch Trunk Diameter Tree of heaven tree will reduce atmospheric carbon by 1,236 pounds.
How significant is this number? Most car owners of an “average” car (mid-sized sedan) drive 12,000 miles generating about 11,000 pounds of CO2 every year. A flight from New York to Los Angeles adds 1,400 pounds of CO2 per passenger. Trees can have an impact by reducing atmospheric carbon in two primary ways (see figure at left):
They sequester (“lock up”) CO2 in their roots, trunks, stems and leaves while they grow, and in wood products after they are harvested.
Trees near buildings can reduce heating and air conditioning demands, thereby reducing emissions associated with power production.
Combating climate change will take a worldwide, multifaceted approach, but by planting a tree in a strategic location, driving fewer miles, or replacing business trips with conference calls, it’s easy to see how we can each reduce our individual carbon “footprints.”