Trees - amenity or necessity? Expert offers findings June 14

May 30, 2014

Joseph "Jay" Townsend will present “Trees, Amenity or Necessity in the 21st Century?” from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 14 at the Lewes Public Library. Sprawling subdivisions, planned urban development, skyscrapers, interstates, corporate agriculture - do humans really need trees in this brave new world?

The discipline that considers this question is urban forestry. Researchers have calculated the physical contributions trees make to people's well-being in urban environments. Each contribution has a monetary value. It turns out that trees contribute many times their installation and maintenance costs in physical benefits. Other researchers are studying the psychological benefits trees provide. These are more difficult to monetize but have an equal or greater impact on people's lives. Not all trees are equal in their contribution to the urban environment. Tree contributions, tree species and tree shape will be discussed. Entrance to this lecture is free to Delaware Botanic Gardens members and $15 for nonmembers.

Townsend grew up in Wawa, Pa. He attended Kenyon College in Ohio. After graduation he drifted out to the West Coast and went to work as a tree climber. The Davey Tree Expert Company sent him to Hawaii for two years and then moved him into management in the San Francisco Bay Area. Townsend was accepted into the University of Delaware’s Longwood Program in public horticulture in 1979. He returned to the Davey Company upon completion of his graduate work and opened the Brandywine office for the company, which he managed for 25 years. Taking advantage of early retirement, Townsend returned to UD to pursue a doctoral degree, researching the psychological impact of tree canopy on city dwellers. He hopes to graduate in fall 2014.

This presentation is one of a series sponsored by the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek, whose mission is to create a world-class, inspirational, educational, and sustainable public botanic garden in southern Delaware for the benefit and enjoyment of the public. For details, go to