Friday, November 13, 2009

Right Tree, Right Place – Natives Versus Non-Natives

I spent the earlier part of this week at a national urban forestry conference in Portland trying to understand the issues the nation’s urban foresters face in expanding, preserving and maintaining our urban tree canopy. Individually and as a group, they are passionate about trees and the benefits trees offer our communities. Their work is challenging in the best circumstances; in our current economic environment, they rely heavily on non-profit organizations and their volunteers to help with tree plantings. In the Portland area, Friends of Trees is an essential partner in the expansion of our urban forest.

The appropriate use of natives versus non-native trees came up in several of the breakout sessions. I happen to land on the side of combining natives and “introduced” cultivars. The fact is, natives prefer certain habitats and our urban environments aren’t always conducive to their health and survival. What’s your view on this issue?

A new resource is available to help us understand what factors our urban foresters consider to find the right tree for the right place. I thought it might be of interest to you. On the Oregon Department of Forestry Web site, look under publications for “Tree Choices: Native, Non-Native, Invasive: the terms can be relative,” or click on


  1. I favor natives. What we need are native bugs, and our bugs know how to eat native trees. Otherwise, what will our birds have to eat and feed their babies on? Introduced trees don't fit into the scheme that bugs and plants and birds have worked out over millennia here in the Northwest. Honor our roots! (OK, pun intended)

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with Ann. Natives are what started here and belong here and they are what the native fauna need to thrive.

  3. ok, so what tree is native to a 4 by 4 concrete cutout?