Last week, more than 200 enthusiastic volunteers gathered at Elysian Park near Dodger Stadium in the heart of Los Angeles, with a mission to bring back the lush, green tree canopy to what is now a barren park. Elysian Park—the oldest and second largest park in the city—is an oasis for millions of residents starved for green space. It is particularly beloved to the community living in the adjacent Elysian Park neighborhood. However, much of its tree canopy has died off in the last several years because of pest infestations, poor water irrigation, and drought. California is now in its fifth year of drought and has already lost more than 12 million trees.
Most residents had given up on the idea of restoring the park until several organizations including City Plants, Alliance for Community Trees and the Arbor Day Foundation partnered together to hold a community-wide tree planting event. The planting was supported by Boise Paper’s Project Up—a program focused on revitalizing urban park spaces. Elysian Park was a perfect example of this. At 130 years old, what was once a popular green space for hiking and playing was evolving into a dying woodland. Boise invited their friends at Office Depot-Office Max to support the project, and Disney VoluntEARS joined volunteers and local residents to help plant 100 seedlings.
The trees were planted using new technology by the Land Life Company called a COCOON—a device designed to support a seedling through its critical first year. The pioneering design includes a reservoir so that the seedling only needs to be watered when it is first planted. The device slowly delivers water to the seedling over time, helps to capture precious rain water, and develops the roots in such a way that over time, the tree becomes highly drought resistant. The design also includes a shelter to protect the seedling from the elements and small animals. The COCOON is 100% biodegradable, so it doesn’t leave anything unwanted behind.
This planting method is designed to create self-sustaining trees in arid environments. However, City Plants, along with L.A.’s Department of Water and Power and Recreation and Parks will be checking on the trees periodically to monitor their growth. If the trees thrive as expected, this could be a game-changer for California and for drought susceptible areas around the world. We hope the latest developments in tree care will help bring Elysian Park and many others fighting off drought back to their former green glory.
To learn how you can make a difference with trees or partner with us visit arborday.org.