If Joan Milke Flores and Gloria Molina are representative of the L.A. City Council's understanding of the importance of trees to our urban environment, then we are in serious trouble.
Trees are more important to all of us than we apparently realize. Few things offer us so much for so little. Trees offer shade from hot summer sun and harmful radiation due to the ozone depletion problem. Shade can cut cooling costs up to 40%. Trees can also lower heating bills by acting as windbreaks. Trees help combat "urban heat islands," which is the heat-gain in cities due to a concentration of buildings, traffic, and dark, paved surfaces. Up to 10% of urban electric demand is spent cooling buildings to compensate for this heat-gain. On a more global perspective, trees help reduce the "greenhouse effect" by replacing carbon dioxide (spewed into our atmosphere by cars, industries, etc.) with oxygen, which we can't live without.
So dollar for dollar, we need to nourish and love the trees we already have. In addition, we need to plant many more of them. We must plan ahead for our oxygen supplies and reduction of electricity use which is produced by burning fossil fuels.
The tree counting project is to help this urban area know where the trees are, and how to maintain them on a regular basis so they can provide all of the benefits enumerated above. An urban forest needs to be well-managed. Good management needs data. The tree counting project provides needed data.