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Group Hopes Silva Cell Technology Helps Urban Trees Flourish

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Source: KDKA-TV) Heather Abraham
Pittsburgh native Heather Abraham joined KDKA in Decembe...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Downtown Pittsburgh is about to get a little greener.

Trees that had been mysteriously dying are now being replaced, and according to the Treevitalize staff this greenery will survive because of a new underground system.

When crews are finished planting on Stanwix Street, what you’ll see is a line of trees.

What you won’t see, is a system working underground to help those trees flourish and survive up to six times longer than the average urban tree.

As the leaves still cling to some trees this fall, some new plants are taking root downtown.

But it’s not just soil and water that’s helping the saplings. A network of plastic and soil underground will allow the roots to expand and develop.

“They’re actually structures underneath of the sidewalk that give the tree as much soil volume as you would find in a park or in your yard,” said Jeff Bergman, of Treevitalize.

Nationally, the average urban tree survives between eight to 10 years because of how harsh an urban environment can be. Over the summer, the Pittsburgh area lost around 70 trees.

This technology, called Silva Cell, will provide the space for the elms being planted on Stanwix Street to grow to 50 feet and survive as long as 60 years.

“The technology is really simple. It’s just stackable cells that allow open soil,” Bergman said. “So it’s kind of simple, but it’s strong enough to support the sidewalk, but gives the trees room to grow.”

“There’s more space for a tree to grow longer and trees can reach their full potential with this technology,” added Mark Hockley, of the Western Pa. Conservancy.

Due to the expense of the Silva Cells, the partnership won’t be able to plant every tree using it, but certainly believe it’s worth the cost to provide the right environment for a city tree.

“We don’t want to see trees die,” Bergman added. “So, if we know we invest up front, we’re going to get the payoff down the road with beautiful trees.”

The partnership is well on their way to reaching the goal of 20,000 trees by 2012, They are hoping to have at least 12,000 trees total planted by the end of this fall.

RELATED LINKS:
Treevitalize
More Green News

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