EarthCare is about educating ourselves and others on ecology, climate change, storm water management, providing a healthy environment for pollinators, green roofs, energy audits, conservation and wildlife protection and gardening.
September 2021: Plant a Native Fringe Tree
- Please join us to plant a native fringe tree to celebrate the importance of trees in our community as part of our 65th anniversary celebration of Unity of Fairfax.
- Sunday, 9/19, after the 11am service.
- Also a 20 minute walk of the grounds, describing our native shrubs and trees.
- Everyone is welcome.
Why Plant Trees?
Trees support native wildlife. A Stanford University study showed that adding one native tree to a pasture could increase the number of bird species in a 70-meter radius from nearly zero to 80! As native tree cover was increased, mammals, plants and birds increased significantly in number and endangered and at-risk species started to return.
Trees improve air quality. They can remove up to a quarter of particulate matter pollution (that can cause asthma and heart disease) in their immediate vicinity.
Trees cool the air by providing shade and blocking the sun’s rays from being absorbed by surfaces like roads, parking lots, and rooftops. They also cool the air by transpiring water. Urban trees can cool a neighborhood by 4°F!
Trees reduce stress levels. Research has shown that exposure to chemicals released by trees known as phytoncides can result in reduced blood pressure, reduced anxiety, increased pain threshold and even increased expression of anti-cancer proteins.
Source: Potomac Conservancy: https://potomac.org/blog/2021/5/1/11-tree-fun-facts
Why Plant Native Trees?
Native plants and wildlife have evolved together. Native insects won’t eat just any plant. They are attracted to specific species. Likewise, birds won’t eat just any insect. They need specific insects that eat specific plants. A chickadee will fly half a city block from its nest – past nonnative trees – to find a native tree with insects to feed its young. Replacing native plants with non-natives disrupts this food web and decreases native wildlife. Loss of biodiversity has serious consequences, such as our food supply being impacted by the declining number of pollinators.
According to Desiree Narango from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, “If you have a lot of trees that are not native, to the birds it’s almost like there are no trees at all. . . .Nonnative trees may support insects, but they do not support the insects that birds want and need to feed their young”.
Fortunately, we have the ability to contribute to biodiversity! According to Doug Tallamy, an entomologist at the University of Delaware:
The good news is that extinction takes a while, so if we start sharing our landscapes with other living things, we should be able to save much of the biodiversity that still exists. . . .Scientific facts, deduced from thousands of studies about how energy moves through food webs, outline for us what it will take to give our local animals what they need to survive and reproduce on our properties. Native plants, and lots of them. . . .So many animals depend on insects for food . . . that removing insects from an ecosystem spells its doom. . . .Our studies have shown that even modest increases in the native plant cover on suburban properties significantly increases the number and species of breeding birds, including birds of conservation concern. . . .As gardeners and stewards of our land, we have never been so empowered to help save biodiversity from extinction, and the need to do so has never been so great. All we need to do is plant native plants.
More good news - native plants are adapted to our soil, climate and insects, so they need less watering and no pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Native Trees and Shrubs at Unity of Fairfax
Many native trees and shrubs can be found at Unity of Fairfax. Here are just two examples:
Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis
beneficial insects, nectar producer
excellent early spring source of pollen and nectar for bees, host of the Henry’s elfin butterfly
spring flowers, fall foliage color
Witch Hazel Hamamelis virginiana
cover for wildlife, nest sites for birds, food for caterpillars, fall flowers
Supports 62 species of caterpillars
fall foliage color, fragrance
Many more trees and shrubs at Unity of Fairfax
Download a more complete list of Native Trees and Shrubs at Unity of Fairfax
More information on native trees and other plants
- Plant NOVA Natives https://www.plantnovanatives.org/native-tree-choices
- US Fish and Wildlife Service Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping https://www.fws.gov/chesapeakebay/pdf/NativePlantsforWildlifeHabitatandConservationLandscaping.pdf
Ongoing actions sponsored by EarthCare are listed on the EarthCare Actions page on our website.
The legacy of EarthCare at Unity of Fairfax is on the EarthCare Legacy page on our website.
Twenty-nine important files from the history of EarthCare are stored in the EarthCare Archive.