Iowa Communities Lack Tree Diversity

Apr 24, 2015

Shocking data reveals more than half of Iowa's trees fall under just two different genera: maple and ash. 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau recently inventoried trees in 273 communities across the state. The results showed that maple and ash trees make up 54 percent of trees in Iowa’s public parks and streets. DNR Urban Forrester Matt Brewer says that the state needs to value diversity and learn from past diseases that hit the tree population.

"The emerald ash borer’s already threatening the ash, if something comes in that threatens maples, you’re potentially losing every other tree as you go down the block," Brewer said. "So that’s really what we’re trying to avoid is that mass loss of tree canopy that changes the real complexion of communities."

The latest national standards state that communities should not have more than 20 percent of trees in any one genus, in an effort to keep populations diverse. 

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa Department of Natural Resources Foresters Mark Vitosh and Matt Brewer. Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron also answers listener questions.