Ridley Park's Online Digital Community
To: Delaware County Planning Department
Sam Haber, Principal Planner / Project Manager
The natural environment is an increasingly important consideration in
the comprehensive planning process. Natural resources and landscapes are
the foundation of constructing a community…
Environmental stewardship is an essential component of healthy, dynamic communities….
Ridley Park has retained a considerably sylvan quality, with many tree-lined streets and pockets of canopy cover in lawns and parks throughout the Borough. This serves to not only establish a sense of community identity, but also helps to soften the visual impact of dense development, both in and around the Borough.
[RP Comprehensive Plan revision 2014 page 40]
As evident in Ridley Park, trees help to enhance community character and provide visual relief from the built environment.
[RP Comprehensive Plan revision 2014 page 42]
And yet I have found no mention of input from our RP Borough Shade Tree Commission, but for a vague reference to a tree committee—whatever that is.
Had our Shade Tree Commission been invited to participate in the current RP Comp Plan revision process, no doubt there would be mention of Ridley Park’s 11 year listing by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City Award recipient for our dedication to public tree care.
There would also certainly be mention of a major regional study of shade cover, and the important initiatives that were to follow:
New approaches developed since the last RP Comp Plan include:
Urban Ecosystem Analysis
Delaware Valley Region
Calculating the Value of Nature
Report Contents: Project Overview and Major Findings; Regional Ecosystem Analysis; Watershed Analysis; Planning Using Local Analysis; Modeling Environmental Benefits;
Recommendations; About the Urban Ecosystem Analysis
AMERICAN FORESTS conducted an urban ecosystem analysis
of the Delaware Valley region to provide community leaders
with detailed information about the region’s tree cover and its
environmental and economic impacts.
And the American Forests study provided solid data based justification for the TreeVitalize Program, and Initiatives such as one million trees, PHS Tree Tender Training, and public tree planting support.
TreeVitalize Program Overview
In March 2003 American Forests Inc. and the US Forest Service released the results of an “Urban Ecosystem Analysis” completed for the Delaware Valley. Utilizing high resolution satellite imagery, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and CITYgreen software the analysis provided detailed information about the region’s tree cover, and calculated the monetary value of the environmental and economic impact trees have on the region. Changes in land use over time were also measured and the resulting changes in environmental services were quantified.
The five-county region including and surrounding Philadelphia was found to have suffered a loss of 8% of heavy tree cover (-34,000 acres) in only 15 years. A reduction in tree canopy cover translates to an increase in storm water runoff, an increase in energy costs, and a loss of air quality. In the Delaware Valley, the capacity to detain stormwater was diminished by 53 million cubic feet annually, a $105 million service. Each year 1.7 million pounds fewer pollutants were absorbed, a $3.9 million service, and 1,373 tons less carbon was captured in the making of wood.
Research also links the presence of trees to a more positive social and economic environment as well, making business districts more attractive, increasing property values, calming traffic, and reducing stress. The loss of canopy cover results in the loss of those benefits as well. In short, tree cover is recognized as vitally important to the quality of life in a community.
Respectfully submitted for your consideration,