Greenwich Free Press: Greenwich Sustainability Committee Speaker Series – Save the Dates

Join the Sustainability Committee for informative and educational discussions on how the Greenwich Sustainability Sectors are responding to the challenges of the climate crisis.

The Speaker Series takes place at the Second Congregational Chapel from 1:00 – 2:30pm

Please visit our webpage: to sign up for our newsletter and follow us @greenwichsustainability to receive updates.

LAND AND WATER: September 28, 2023
Forests, Trees and Brain Health
Community Partner: Greenwich Tree Conservancy

WASTE REDUCTION: October 24, 2023
Waste Injustice: Impacts and Solutions
Community Partner: Waste Free Greenwich

COMMUNITY CULTURE: November 28, 2023
Building Ecological Climate Resilience Through Native Plant Landscaping
Community Partner: Greenwich Land Trust

FOOD SYSTEMS: January 30, 2024
Regionalizing the Food System in Response to Climate Change
Community Partners: Greenwich Community Gardens and The Foodshed Network


BUSINESS: March 26, 2024
The Business Case for Sustainability: Why is it Important for Business to Adopt Sustainable Practices?

Climate Change Impacts in Greenwich: What Do We Need to Prepare For and How?

Spare the Air: Smog Season Starts with a Call to Drive Less and Landscape Responsibly

Contact Kim Gregory @ with any questions.

Greenwich Sustainability Committee Speaker Series is in partnership with Coffee for Good and Second Congregational Church.

Original Source: Greenwich Sustainability Committee Speaker Series: Save the Dates | Greenwich Free Press


More info on this month’s event. To RSVP, email Kim Gregory at

Greenwich Sentinel: Why Plant Native Trees?

By Mary Shaw Marks

Did you know that Governor Ned Lamont designated April 2023 as Connecticut Native Plant Month. Upon learning of the accelerating loss of native trees and plants from the Garden Club of America, Governor Lamont chose to act.

Why is this significant? It is quite natural to take trees for granted. After all, we were born into this green garden of Eden. Along the way we’ve upset the critical balance nature provides by replacing plants native to our region with large expanses of lawn and exotic imported trees. While these landscapes may look pretty, to a caterpillar that our birds feed upon they are about as nutritious as a parking lot.


The native trees in our yards play a critical role in providing food and habitat for our pollinating insects, birds, and bees. When there are no native trees to supply food, there are very few insects, and if there are no caterpillars, there are no birds. Our own human food system also depends on a healthy insect population for pollination.

Why is this? Most insects have co-evolved with native trees and plants over millions of years and rely on them to generate their food. Plants don’t want to be eaten so they have developed their own defenses, thus creating a balance where they are nibbled, not destroyed, and insects have their dinner. This explains why many caterpillars only eat certain plants, like milkweed, and why native trees may be very healthy despite having a few holes in their leaves. This co-evolution supports a complex web of life.


Well known expert and author of The Nature of Oaks, Douglas Tallamy, explains that North America has over 90 native species of Oaks hosting more than 897 species of caterpillars. These caterpillars fuel the food web with more species dependent on oaks than on any other plant. He notes that you really can bring an enormous amount of life into your yard by planting them and how well suited they are to suburban landscapes as you can easily plant underneath them as they grow tall. It appears the White Oak tree is Connecticut’s state tree for good reason.

In the runner up categories, you have the beautiful Pussy Willow feeding 400+ species. Black Cherry and American Plum support 400+ with flowers full of life in spring when Weeping and Ornamental Cherry provide scant food. River Birch, White Birch and Shaggy Birch are stars at 400+ with the shaggy bark offering many great nesting and hang-out spots. Both native and imported Crabapples host 300+, one of few imported species to provide nutritious nectar. Red and Sugar Maple come in with 280+ and are a great alternative to Japanese and Norway Maples which support little life. White Pines host 200+ and are great in woodlands. Like Silver Maples, they drop limbs and not recommended in yards. Native Dogwood has splendid spring flowers and berries that ripen in the fall exactly when birds need to fatten up.

Smaller understory trees such as Serviceberry and Redbud have early spring flowers and berries and seeds birds love. Native evergreens such as Eastern Red Cedar, Eastern White Pine, and American Holly provide food and places to shelter year-round. Seek out native and not cultivated varieties for the biggest impact.

We are currently experiencing an insect apocalypse, a crashing of our life supporting population. While we may happily celebrate the relative lack of annoying mosquitoes and flies, this is an ecological disaster. Since 1970 we have lost one third of our bird population. One third. Most especially the “backyard birds” whose songs we associate with spring days and time spent outdoors. In most yards 92% of green space is lawn, 75% of the plants are alien, and 10% are invasive, all planted by homeowners like us.


Suburbs represent an opportunity and gardening is taking on a critical role. It is now within the power of individual homeowners to make a difference with the selection of trees and plants they choose. Think of that busy mother chickadee whose baby requires 3,000 caterpillars before leaving the nest!

In choosing trees to plant this growing season consider one of these stars that will offer you many years of beauty, shade and clean air while hosting and feeding the birds that sing to you each morning. The Greenwich Tree Conservancy works to plant, preserve, and protect wisely for the future health of our magnificent local ecosystem. The lush green garden we all take for granted.

he Greenwich Tree Conservancy is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the trees of Greenwich for the benefit of community health and quality of life.

Mary Shaw Marks is a member of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy Board of Directors

This story originally appeared at

The Tree Doctors – recorded on March 30, 2023

The Tree Doctors Are Coming!

Recorded on Thursday, March 30th


You have questions and we have answers!
Join us for a panel discussion and Q&A with:
John Conte
Licensed Landscape Architect, Member Town Greenscape Committee
Dr. Gregory Kramer
Superintendent of Parks & Trees. Town Tree Warden.
Allan Fenner
Consulting Arborist
Planning a Landscape
Concerned about disease
Insect infestation
Feeding or Pruning
Learn ways to better care for your trees
Register to access the recording!

Greenwich Sentinel: Why is it important to advocate for our Trees? 7.8.2022

By JoAnn Messina

The Greenwich Tree Conservancy (GTC) plants trees in partnership with the town and educates on the important role they play in our community’s overall health, but how do we protect trees? You may not be aware that we speak in support of tree health at both the local and state level.

Locally, as you have likely witnessed, many developers clearcut properties before beginning their work. The pace of this destructive practice appears to be increasing at the same time as stronger storms are creating more flooding. Entire lots are cleared of trees prior to seeking building permits to make it easier for new construction. There is no protection in place for our private trees.

Building applications that are non-conforming must come before the Planning and Zoning Commission. These applications often include extensive removal of trees and GTC advocates for a more respectful approach to development to better protect our tree canopy and the ecosystem services it provides our community. Throughout these discussions GTC and others supply well documented information on concerns including the resulting increase in erosion and flooding, the creation of heat-islands and other unanticipated outcomes that would negatively affect the neighborhood.

Should a resident or business want a tree removed within the public right-of-way (ROW), they submit a request to the Town Tree Warden. If the tree is determined to be healthy, and the applicant still wants it removed, the Tree Warden posts the tree for removal and if anyone objects within 10 days a tree hearing is scheduled. GTC often requests hearings to enable a closer look at the issues at hand. The tree warden listens to testimonies from all parties, including concerned residents, and makes a ruling within 3 days. Any ruling may be appealed to the Superior Court in Stamford.

At the state level we often encounter our primary electricity provider, Eversource. Eversource speaks about hardening their infrastructure, yet their practices appear to focus solely on removal and “enhanced” trimming of our trees and not on equipment upgrades or undergrounding of wires in municipal areas. In the past their pruning protocol had been to clear all tree material within 8 feet of transmission lines, causing a “V” in town trees.

More recently, Eversource has increased their tree trimming requesting a clearance of 10 feet along with a “fall zone”. This policy is currently being tested in several towns. To date these increased tree trimming policies have not been shown to create a failsafe electrical system and the great damage they cause to the health of town trees is well understood. For this reason, the GTC advocates at state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) hearings to request that the benefits trees provide communities be considered when establishing utility company tree trimming guidelines. As town tree canopies are weakened by aggressive trimming the trees become more vulnerable to damage from strong storms. The GTC provides documented evidence and a voice of reason to PURA as they oversee our utility companies.

Additionally, we speak to the clear cutting by CT DOT along I-95 and the Metro North right-of-way that includes easements provided to Eversource. All three entities have removed sound buffers that are critical to adjacent neighborhoods, have decimated habitat for songbirds and pollinators, and left behind wide open areas for invasive plants to take over. Their management policy is to apply pesticides, in many cases directly adjacent to homes and schools with young children. This creates a vicious cycle which would not occur if a properly managed tree canopy had remained. Policies such as these has left GTC with a sense of responsibility to speak out and advocate at state agency hearings and directly to the Governor.

Currently in Connecticut there are very few regulations on private property trees. We continue to discuss how we might find a way to protect a portion of our private property trees, to maintain the critical water and soil systems we all depend upon. We assisted in the passage of a public tree ordinance and feel it is time to discuss some form of private tree protection. This can take one of many forms, permits to remove trees over a certain size or a percentage of coverage to remain. We should discuss canopy loss and canopy goals. It looks as if the time has come to broaden our understanding as a community and begin to take action. Please join us in discussion, advocacy or donation as we seek to preserve and protect our town tree canopy.

JoAnn Messina has been the Executive Director of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy for over 15 years and is currently a member of the P&Z Greenscape Task Force. Prior to that she chaired the First Selectman’s Parking and Traffic Committee, was a member of the Selectman’s Nominations Advisory Committee and was President of the LWVG.

This article originally appeared in the Greenwich Sentinel on July 8, 2022.

Cos Cob Library Tree Walk with Lisa Beebe 6.6.2022

Greenwich Time: Riverside School plants a shingle oak to teach Greenwich students a ‘green’ lesson 5.25.2022

On Friday April 29, 2022, Riverside School celebrated Arbor Day with a tree planting ceremony in the school’s back field. Second and fourth grade classes were invited to participate along with a handful of volunteers and school staff. Pictured from left to right: Student: Japser Davis, Sienna Chodos, Vijeesh Nathan, Dr. Greg Kramer (Town Tree Warden), Jake Pollak (Town of Greenwich), Christopher Weiss Principal of Riverside School, JoAnn Messina (Executive Director Greenwich Tree Conservancy), First Selectman Fred Camilo

By Karen Tensa

GREENWICH — Riverside School celebrated Arbor Day with a tree-planting ceremony on its back field, with second- and fourth-grade classes invited to participate with volunteers and school staff.

“Riverside School is deeply committed to supporting local organizations in their efforts to preserve natural resources and green spaces,” said Christopher Weiss, principal at Riverside School.

Guests in attendance included First Selectman Fred Camillo; Jake Pollack, a tree climber for the town of Greenwich; JoAnn Messina, executive director of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy; and Melissa Conkling of the GTC.

Weiss opened the event, held on April 29, followed by remarks from Messina. Camillo then addressed the audience by reading an Arbor Day proclamation from the town.

Town Tree Warden Greg Kramer spoke to the students about the tree that would be planted during the ceremony, a shingle oak. The tree is indigenous to the Greenwich area

He also answered students’ questions about the tree and Arbor Day.

Click here to read the full article in the Greenwich Time.

Byram Park Tree Walk with Dr. Greg Kramer 5.21.2022

Power Struggle: Balancing the Needs of People, Power and Trees

Cries for cutting down trees before another storm hit were heard far and near. The Greenwich Tree Conservancy grew concerned that, after the power outages of Hurricane Irene in August, 2011, and the Halloween Storm in October, 2011, there were constant calls for radical tree removals as the way to reduce power outages in the future. The GTC formulated the idea of sponsoring an educational forum to provide an assessment of the storm response and identify measures that would reduce the frequency and duration of outages and improve reliability of the power supply. Working with the League of Women Voters of Greenwich and other Fairfield County towns, as well as interested Fairfield county tree organizations, the idea came to fruition on the night of February 28th.

The forum featured a panel of five stakeholders; representatives included the chair of the Governor’s Two-Storm Panel, CL&P, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Forest and Park Association and a representative from the Concord, Ma. Municipal Light Plant, a municipality that has buried many of their power wires underground.

Continue reading “Power Struggle: Balancing the Needs of People, Power and Trees”

Winter Solstice Eve and Winter Walk

Please join the Greenwich Tree Conservancy on the eve of the Winter Solstice 4:00 PM on December 20th at the Garden Education Center as we explore the winter woods with Denise Savageau, Conservation Director for the Town of Greenwich and Lisa Beebe, GEC Director of Horticulture.

We will discuss the beauty of the woods in winter with a focus on the branching structures of trees. Returning inside we’ll learn more about the Winter Solstice and trees as a symbol of renewal in winter holiday celebrations and conduct the Awards Ceremony for our 2012 Awesome Tree Contest, where the winning contestants will receive their awards. Refreshments will be served. Please reserve at: