In honor of Arbor Day, a post oak in the historic Maplewood Cemetery on Lexington Avenue was designated as a Landmark Tree by the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards on Thursday.
Through their Notable Trees Project, the Tree Stewards give Landmark Tree designations to Charlottesville’s “largest and most beautiful trees.” Qualifying trees are well known and located in open, easy-to-find places. The post oak in the Maplewood Cemetery is the 12th tree to receive the Landmark Tree designation from the Tree Stewards.
With the designation, the tree will receive protective status from the City Council. According to Robin Hanes, president-elect of the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards, this means that the tree cannot be torn down for development unless it is proven to be unhealthy and negatively impacting the area around it.
Mark Rylander, a Tree Steward and member of the Charlottesville Tree Commission, said that for the post oak to be eligible for protection, the city parks and recreation department first had to remove some of the English ivy surrounding it. English ivy is considered an invasive species in the United States.
Hanes urged community members to contact the Tree Stewards if they know of other trees they think should receive this designation and protection.
“Trees are these amazing organisms. They live for generations. They give us so much; without trees, we wouldn’t even be here,” said Barbara White, current president of the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards. “Trees help improve water quality, they help air quality, they help our psychology.”
White said she believes a lack of trees and green space in urban areas can contribute to increased violence, which makes it all the more important to protect trees in the city.
Arbor Day was started by J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraska newspaper editor who advocated for individuals and civic groups to plant trees. Morton eventually became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, at which time he proposed a tree-planting holiday Arbor Day during a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture.
The first celebration was set for April 10, 1872, and it was estimated that more than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.
These days, the most common date for observance of Arbor Day is the last Friday in April. Arbor Day encourages communities to come together to organize tree-planting and litter-collecting events on or around the holiday.