Greenwich Tree Conservancy

CT Insider: Greenwich Land Trust ‘Winter Walk’ teaches visitors how identify trees without leaves

Visitors enjoyed a robust walk and a little education about the trees around them on Feb. 7 at the new Converse Brook Preserve in Greenwich.

The Greenwich Land Trust and Greenwich Tree Conservancy hosted the guided tour “Winter Walk — Identifying Trees Without Leaves” at the preserve, which is on Cherry Valley Road. Those who attended were taught to examine the diverse features of bark, branches and buds to see a varied winter landscape.

The Land Trust permanently protects and cares for more than 869 acres of woodlands, marshlands, orchards, and meadows throughout Greenwich. The organization recently acquired Converse Brook Preserve, which is 72 acres of open space. The piece of land is now Greenwich Land Trust’s largest preserve and will allow the community to partake in outdoor activities and educational programming through guided walks and hikes, nature study, and family events.

This story originally appeared at

Letter to the Editor – Greenwich Tree Conservancy: House Bills Address Destructive Tree Cutting by DOT, Eversource 2.3.2023

Submitted by JoAnn Messina, Executive Director, Greenwich Tree Conservancy

To the Editor:

The State General Assembly has recently submitted several tree bills, two of them speak specifically to tree issues we have been experiencing here in Greenwich. Our tree canopy is being reduced by the enhanced tree trimming of Eversource as well as the massive tree removals of CT DOT along our transportation corridors.

Tree removal along I95 close to exit 5 in Old Greenwich/Riverside

The pace of this destructive practice appears to be increasing at the same time as stronger storms are creating more dramatic flooding and the resulting erosion. This cutting also results in the creation of heat islands throughout town and other unanticipated outcomes that negatively affect our neighborhoods.

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.

They recently issued a press release (Eversource Investing $74 Million in Tree Management Feb 3, 2023) stating that 140 miles of electric lines in Greenwich would see trees being “trimmed” or removed, the most in the state. As town tree canopies are weakened by aggressive trimming the trees become more vulnerable to damage from strong storms.

HB 5636 will address vegetation management by utilities by requiring a permit from DEEP for pruning, require a licensed arborist to agree with the assessment of the health of the tree, require stump removal and replacement of trees removed from private property and establish fines when they do not comply with such provisions.

Additionally, the clear cutting by CT DOT along I-95 and the Metro North right-of-way that includes easements provided to Eversource 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 have occurred if a properly managed tree canopy had remained.

HB5506 will establish guidelines to govern vegetation along state highways by employing a certified arborist to approve tree removals, it will require annual reporting of the amount of money spent on tree removals during the previous year along with a schedule of work to be performed four weeks prior to start. The tree warden will receive this notification as well as a concise planting plan of replacement trees where trees are to be removed.

Representatives Meskers, Arzeno and Khanna are co-sponsoring these bills. We ask you to write to them expressing your support and the importance of these bills.

Please also write to Senator Fazio asking him to co-sponsor these bills in the Senate. Now is the time to stop the practice of clearcutting trees by Eversource and CT DOT.

This letter originally appeared on and on

Greenwich Free Press: Public Hearing: After 7 Lost Years, Community Urges Regulatory Agencies to Proceed with WMS Field Remediation

Below is an excerpt for the original article published January 12, 2023. Click here for the full article.

Wednesday night’s public hearing at Western Middle School brought an outpouring of support for proposed remediation of contaminated soil. The audience was representatives of DEEP and the EPA.

The proposal is to remove two feet of soil across the playing fields and vegetated slopes.

The fields have been fenced off since 2016.

Families attended an open house in the gym prior to the public hearing and were able to ask questions one-on-one with the experts.


Francia Alvarez from the Greenwich Tree Conservancy expressed support for the remediation plan, but she said she hoped as many of the existing trees could be saved as possible.

“Many trees were removed at New Lebanon School and the Tree Conservancy does not want to see that again here,” she said.

For the full story, click here.

Greenwich Sentinel: Street & Roadside Trees, Value Greater Than You Realize

By Urling Searle

There are streets and roads in town that frequently elicit comments such as “oh, I love that street” or “that is one of my favorite roads to drive on”. This enthusiasm can often be attributed to the mature trees growing along our favorite roads as their canopies create a deeply rooted landscape that encourages us to look more closely and engage with the neighborhood.

Large trees are considered ‘keystone structures’ due to the important role they play in supporting critical biodiversity. Under a mature tree you can find small ecosystems where moisture and key nutrients are retained in the soil, allowing it to remain stable and able to support a vast array of life. When the living organisms within soil become severely depleted the result is dirt that erodes more easily and contributes to stormwater runoff and local flooding. Town residents have been experiencing this problem at an increasing rate during recent strong storms.

Trees along a street and sidewalk.

A handful of mature trees in a developed setting create a biodiverse “hotspot” offering all these benefits along with an environment that hosts many familiar species of birds and the food system they depend upon. Small trees simply cannot do this.

The leaves of street and roadside trees actively filter air through the cellular process of photosynthesis and provide physical barriers that catch airborne dust particles and solid pollutants, providing significant human health benefits. This is particularly important in an area such as southwestern CT where increasing traffic brings with it increasing air pollution.

Street trees shield adjacent structures and people from summer heat and the sun’s uv rays, lowering air-conditioning bills. They buffer wind and weather in winter. In a 2013 controlled study, using a temporarily installed tree line and electron microscopy, a greater than 50% reduction in airborne particulate matter was found in the houses screened from the road by the temporary tree line.

Mature roadside trees are able to spread out and store more carbon than forest trees as they enjoy more light and less competition.

Consider that a 36” Red Oak stores 6000 times more carbon than a newly planted 1” caliber tree. A 30” diameter tree filters 60—70 times the pollutants of a 3” caliber tree. A 20-year-old Red Maple has been shown to remove 3100 pounds of carbon dioxide and intercept 27,000 gallons of rainfall, in just 20 years of growth. Think of all the benefits the mature trees in your neighborhood provide.

With an increasing number of residents choosing to live in the more densely populated areas of town, the value our mature street trees play in our quality of life becomes clearer. It is well known that trees increase property values and reduce crime. Office workers with a view of trees report less stress and more satisfaction with their jobs. Whether you find yourself sitting on a park bench or enjoying a walk along a back country road, leafy neighborhoods create environments of interaction, where people are more likely to spend time outside.

The benefits trees provide us has yet to be fully understood. Recent study suggests an increasing awareness of the essential role they play in human health and well-being.

Street and roadside trees provide unparalleled scenic beauty and bring a sense of place and character to a town or city. The Tree Conservancy works with the town to preserve the town trees that are a part of our urban forest and encourages all residents to better understand the benefits they enjoy and the value of their own trees.

This article originally appeared in the Greenwich Sentinel. Click here to read.

The Great Legacy White Oak Planting Workshop 10.25.2022

2022 Treasured Trees Celebration 10.20.2022

Greenwich Sentinel Column: Giants Among Us 10.7.2022

By John R. Conte

Take a walk anywhere in our beautiful sylvan town and you will be accompanied by giants. Silent, stoic, and imbued with magical powers, these benevolent Brobdingnagian beauties stand quietly, patiently, never asking, never imposing on we, the mere mortals at their feet. Yet despite their enormity, perhaps because of it, they are unseen in our busy days, filled with our self-imposed urgency. We overlook the magic of these alchemists, walking beneath their shade, breathing in the fresh oxygen they exhale, we are soothed by their presence without notice, without a care, and unaware of the profound effect they have upon us, and we upon them.

Their abundance hides them in plain sight, causing them to recede from our awareness. Just as the sky surrounds us and the ground supports our feet without a thought, we take them for granted. Arising out of almost nothing, their humble beginnings belie the magnificence of their potential. Potential that, with providence and good fortune, will transform the tiny seeds of their beginnings into the enormous sentinels of power and strength they hope to become.
But for all their majesty, for all their enormity, there is a frailty. A vulnerability to shifting conditions that renders these giants helpless to the changing world around them. Their quiet way of life relies on stability and consistency – rare commodities in our modern world.

Above our heads their great branches reach to the sky offering their leaves to the sun. Each one tilts and turns toward the light to receive maximum energy from the vibrating electrons beaming down. They perform the magic of photosynthesis day in and day out, creating their own food from carbon dioxide in the air and nutrients of the soil. Connected to the earth by millions of tiny pathways stretching from high atop each tiny leaf, deep down into the unseen, unimaginably complex network below. Their work continues relentlessly, silently, and patiently with a complexity we are only just beginning to understand.

This intricate network draws essential elements from the soil, aided by millions of mycelia, through a superhighway that moves vast quantities of water and nutrients from the ground to the sky and back again, without sound, without visible motion or effort, year after year. Through their twigs, branches, and roots, this work wages on, building an empire before our eyes, over our heads, yet below our awareness. Like the hands on a clock, never seen to move, yet always moving, the life within each tree flows on.

A lifetime on a scale that can span generations. And yet the frailty remains. These giants, so susceptible to change, so dependent on their locale, so little can bring it all to an end. Less water, less sunlight, less air in the soil, toxins seeping in, excavations ripping roots, coverings above the soil, climatic changes, floods, droughts, insects, disease, or sometimes simply time itself can bring about the slow draining of the magical life force that flows within them. When does a tree die? Why does a tree die? What is it that stops this miraculous process? The biology is complex and our understanding remains inadequate. But each tree’s individual success is dependent on a series of tenuous conditions dependent on outside forces. Their natural balance, their evolutionary safeguards, their very defenses, are often overwhelmed when we ask them to live in our created environments. The roadsides, parks, yards, playgrounds, and landscapes of our created landscape compounds the fragility of their being. This urban forest of our making becomes our responsibility. Like goldfish in a bowl, we control this environment. Each tree we plant comes with a responsibility of care. They become members of our community as we ask them to live among us. Remember these gentle giants. Look up into their branches. Feel their power and acknowledge them for all of their beauty and frailty. We live among giants, let’s keep it that way.

The 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.

John R. Conte is a Landscape Architect, Arborist of over 40 years, lifelong Greenwich resident and member of the GTC Advisory Board.

Moonlight Bruce Park Tree Walk 10.9.2022

Greenwich Time: Greenwich welcomes new robot lawn mower to the team that uses a greener and quieter technology 9.21.2022

For the small crowd gathered outside Town Hall for a demonstration of the town’s latest green initiative, it wasn’t what they heard that was notable. It was what they didn’t hear.

During the entire official ribbon-cutting presentation Wednesday afternoon, a new eco-friendly mower was cutting the front lawn of Town Hall — and no one heard a sound.

The new addition to the town’s team is a robotic lawn mower called Farmer Joe that makes no noise and produces no direct emissions — unlike a traditional gas-powered mower.

Another bonus: instead of leaving a mess of clippings that need to be cleaned up, Farmer Joe creates fine clippings over the grass that conserve moisture and act as a natural fertilizer by building the soil and feeding the microbial communities there.

“This is a small but significant step in leading and signaling to our community what is really needed and expected from all of us,” said Eric Horn, from the company Greenow that supplied Farmer Joe. “This machine is out-performing human beings in really anything when it comes to mowing practices.”

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