February 26, 2020
Save trees! Plant trees! by Mary Reid Barrow

It was exciting to see the recent article, “Preserving and expanding Virginia Beach’s  forests is key in the fight against flooding,” in “The Virginian-Pilot.”

We’ve been hearing about how important trees are and will be in the world’s fight against climate change and sea level rise and now the science has been confirmed right here at home.

Reporter Peter Coutu, who wrote about the study released by the city this week, said that the city’s “wetland forests suck up about 230 million gallons of water from the ground each day and pump it back into the atmosphere.”

Day in and day out, Virginia Beach forests are playing an important role in stormwater reduction by just being there.   And the study concluded that protection and expansion of these forests could become an important part of the city’s fight against sea level rise.

“Trees are functional straws in the ground,” said Brian Van Eerden, the Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Pinelands Program Director and co-author of the study.

Knowing how important trees will be to the city in the years ahead, it stands to reason that we homeowners should plant a few straws in the ground too, among other things, and play a part in helping Virginia Beach in its fight against sea level rise and flooding.

Do you have a low-lying yard that floods or might flood in future storms and high tides?  Plant a tree, or two, or more.  Think that one day when that tree grows up, it will be as if you added a pump to your yard.

And for gosh sakes, don’t cut down your trees.  Your trees are already, silently, working free of charge to help protect your land from flooding.  A large mature tree can suck up several hundred gallons of water a day every day!  The benefit of trees to help with sea level rise doesn’t even mention the fact that trees also are weapons in climate change, because they absorb polluting carbon dioxide from the air, store the carbon and return the oxygen to Earth.

In the process of caring for and planting trees to help with stormwater reduction, you will get many added benefits.  Your yard will be more beautiful year round and will be shadier and cooler in summer.  Your trees will provide more homes and food to more birds, insects, and animals.

There are no downsides to saving trees and planting trees and the upsides are essential.

Read the full article on the study at


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