A city plan to remove about 18,000 nonnative plants from San Francisco public parks over the next 20 years has some residents up in arms over "plant fascism." The plan has been in the works for almost two decades, but it's finally nearing approval, and some community groups are none too happy about it.
Eucalyptus trees introduced to California coastal areas about 150 years ago are the main issue, with community groups praising them as beautiful "cloud forests" and environmentalists rallying for the native habitats they're chocking out, such as oaks and elderberry bushes. A city environmental review is expected to okay the plan to remove eucalyptus and begin replanting with oaks and other native species next year.
A push by UCSF to thin the dense population of eucalyptus on Mount Sutro is the target of the Save Mount Sutro Forest campaign, which seeks to debunk "eucalyptus myths" and advocate for the forest's preservation. "Wreathed in mist, it is a thing of ethereal beauty and a true treasure of an urban forest." The plan to remove over half of the 45,000 "blue gum" trees was expected to begin this year but has been delayed due to overwhelming community feedback.
But environmentalists insist that the public's emotional connection to eucalyptus us doing a disservice to the city's native plants and animals. Native habitats "are like living museums," Jake Sigg of the California Native Plants Society told the Wall Street Journal. "Once they're gone, they cannot be restored."