Voluntary tree preservation on private property will not work to save the essential canopy cover in Seattle and King County. This is confirmed by the fact that Seattle has lost 50% of its canopy cover over the last 50 years. We must have both regulations and compelling incentives.
Permits for tree removal, a mitigation fund for unavoidable tree loss during construction, and utility fee credits for tree canopy cover are just three ways to accomplish this. Current and upcoming ordinance proposals are woefully insufficient to the task.
The trees of Seattle and King County can no longer be considered just ornaments-in reality, trees are privately owned public utilities that clean the air, prevent urban flooding, cool the globe, and sequester carbon. Like the air and water that exist on private property, trees need to be managed for the public benefit. If local government can tell people what they can and can’t do with their banana peels, we ought to be able to compel residents to retain at least some trees-and reward them for doing so-for the present and future public benefit.