You are here: Home About Us The Problem

Seattle's Trees Are Dying

Today, 3,200 of Seattle’s 3,700 acres of natural areas are forested parks and greenways—remnants of a once vast forest that covered the entire Puget Sound region. After 150 years of logging, view clearing, and passive management, these remnant forests are sick. Seattle’s trees are aging and inundated with invasive plants, including English ivy, Himalayan blackberry, Scot’s broom and knotweed. Most of our trees are near the end of their natural lives.

Today, 3,200 of Seattle’s 3,700 acres of natural areas are forested parks and greenways—remnants of a once vast forest that covered the entire Puget Sound region. After 150 years of logging, view clearing, and passive management, these remnant forests are sick. Seattle’s trees are aging and inundated with invasive plants, including English ivy, Himalayan blackberry, Scot’s broom and knotweed. Most of our trees are near the end of their natural lives.

At the same time, invasive plants have choked out the seedlings that would replace today’s forest. English ivy is an additional threat as it climbs up into the canopy causing trees to topple in high winds. Within 20 years, 70% of our forests (2,500 acres) will be an ecological dead zone were invasive plants predominate, trees are dead or dying and wildlife habitat is gone.

*"The Problem"

Drive on Westlake Avenue along Lake Union or on Lakeview Boulevard below St. Mark’s or Cheasty Boulevard South in the Rainier Valley or  along parts of Lincoln Park in West Seattle and you will see what looks like a very picturesque scene -- trees and English ivy growing together to make a beautiful green landscape. But looks can be deceiving and this pleasant green view hides a potentially devastating problem.

More than a century ago, the vast forest that covered the hills that later became the city of Seattle were clearcut.  Large native maple and alder trees grew in their place.  The extensive clear-cuts from the past significantly reduced the seed source needed for native conifers, such as Douglas firs, Western red cedar, and Western hemlock, to regenerate.  Over the years several non-native invasive plants, such as English ivy, blackberries, and holly, began to establish under the canopy of the city’s forest.  In many parks the invasive plants now dominate and cover the ground, blocking the potential for all native trees to naturally regenerate.

Since then, the leafy trees have grown large and old.  At ground level, where cedar, pines and Douglas firs might have begun to sprout, the earth is covered with invasive plants – ivy, blackberries, holly and several others.

Now many of those big trees are nearing the end of their natural life, and the ivy – like a disease taking advantage of a frail, elderly individual – may speed the decline. The ivy is an invasive plant and over time it will kill the tree.  It robs the tree of nutrients and creates the “sail” effect – high winds in the winter months can be caught by the ivy, helping to pull the tree over.

Not Restored.

Document Actions
powered by Plone | site by Groundwire Consulting and served with clean energy