ENCINITAS — Thirty-six new oak trees have been planted along Saxony Road this summer in an effort to help Encinitas achieve its Climate Action Plan goals for 2018.
The city’s Climate Action Plan identifies the expansion of the urban tree canopy as a strategy for reducing greenhouse gases — a strategy addressed, in part, through the planting of the 36 trees. Oaks remove carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis and then return oxygen to the atmosphere.
The trees are currently 8 to 10 feet tall and are expected to grow 24 to 36 inches per year as they approach maturity. According to city arborist Chris Kallstrand, “Oak trees can take decades to mature, but are long lived and will provide benefits to the community for generations to come.” Kallstrand said the four oak species that were planted have expected lifespans greater than 150 years.
Coast live oak and Englemann oak are native to Southern California, while valley oak is native to California but not to Encinitas. Cork oak comes from southwest Europe and northwest Africa. The Urban Forest Advisory Committee selected the trees, which Kallstrand noted in an email “are well suited for the area, and over time with appropriate care and maintenance will thrive in the landscape.”
When asked why the site along Saxony Road north of Quail Hollow Drive was chosen, Kallstrand wrote, “The Saxony Road location provided adequate space and an opportunity to plant trees that will eventually be larger than the typical urban tree. In the urban landscape, we are often limited by infrastructure conflicts (buildings, homes, and utilities) on the type and size of tree at maturity that can be planted.”
The city is considering whether to plant scrub oak species between the larger oaks as an infill that would provide “an added layer to the landscape” and “provide additional native habitat,” Kallstrand stated.
Due to their strength, longevity and beauty, oaks have long been imbued with mythological and symbolic significance. It is believed, for example, that the Celts performed sacred rituals in oak groves and that the word druid, which identifies a Celtic priest, means knowledge of the oak.
Oaks, via their acorns, served as a vital food source for American Indians and other earlier peoples. Ecologically, oaks play a crucial role in California ecosystems by providing food to wildlife, filtering air and water and controlling against erosion.
Materials adapted from the University of California’s Oak Woodland Management Program state, “Oaks support over 300 species of vertebrate animals and provide food for more species of moths and butterflies than any other plant. Insects that live on oaks provide high-protein food for birds to feed their nestlings. If you are concerned about the reduction in wildlife habitat due to development and land fragmentation, plant an oak!”