Oil Spills Effect on Trees

Author: Blake Linnekin

The oil spill is being called the largest enviornmental disaster in history.  The economic impacts are more than substantial, as well as impacts to wildlife.  As a certified arborist, I wanted to talk about some of the issues that trees are going to face.

As the oil washes onto shore, it will seep into the soil.  This can have long term effects on trees.  The change in soil will be soaked up into the root systems of the trees.  This can stunt the growth of the trees and depending on what else is going on with the tree, possibly kill it.  Most trees do not die from just one reason.  There are generally many contributing factors to why a tree dies.  The change in soil around the coastal areas will likely be a contributing factor to the death of many trees for years to come.  

Florida is most concerned about its already protected mangrove trees.  Key West, in particular, has already gained some compensation from BP to keep the mangroves protected.  They are not yet satisfied with the compensation, but it has been a start as there are countless claims against BP they are having to sort through.  They also have begun this cleanup on their own and residents state they are not at all satisfied with how BP has handled the disaster.

The leak is still going on, and the oil is still going to come to shore and likely cause future damage.  If you live in a community where you believe your trees could be affected, act now.  A small change may not seem like a lot, but the effects can take years to see in your trees.  Be preventative as much as possible because when the trees do die from the changes years from now, it will be too late.

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