There are trees on our list that no longer stand, or that have died and still stand. We keep them on the Texas Historic Tree Registry because there’s much to learn from a tree that had a long, healthy life.
In the course of our research, we learn about the environment surrounding a tree, how it may have changed over time, and how this impacted the tree. This helps us understand which species may thrive in our changing environment, and how we might adapt care and maintenance to better help a tree. Having these great old giants registered and documented will also help the tree detectives of the future. It will be useful to know what urban and rural landscapes looked like in our era, and how change in culture, economy, and environment may have impacted the health of our trees. Preserving the history of our trees today will certainly help future generations be better stewards of their trees and green space.
It’s also important to show the significance of trees in our communities, and how much people love them and congregate near them. In an age when trees are being taken out for development at an alarming rate, it’s important to understand how people value green space, and in particular, great old trees. Sharing the story of each tree and the people who are attached to it is one of our favorite things about the work we do. These stories should live on.
What will future generations want to know? There are important questions to ask when a great old tree comes down. For example, how much did a certain tree mean to the community, and how did the people react to losing it? How likely is it that a tree will ever be planted in the same location, and how likely would it be to grow to the same size and stature of the one that came down? Will changes in land ownership make it more likely or less likely that another tree will thrive and flourish in the same place? What about a change in the local tree ordinance? If it isn’t likely that another tree will grow where one has died, how will this impact the quality of life in the surrounding community? There are so many things to consider. What do you think your great-grandchildren will want to know about trees in our era?