Noise, Air and Water Pollution Abatement

Land protection is a high-impact investment that can safeguard water sources, improve air quality, and reduce noise pollution to avoid health problems for people and wildlife.

Trees are important not only to provide oxygen for us to breathe, but trees clean the air of many harmful pollutants and help with water filtration. Open space can also be used as a noise barrier or buffer zone when the need for noise controls arises due to the proximity of incompatible uses (e.g. frequently traveled highway next to a residential area). In such case, a linear open space with tree cover may serve to reduce the noise as well as the pollution emitted from the highway.

Open space can also assist with the negative impacts of artificial lighting on wildlife habitats in regards to interrupting nocturnal activity and interfering with reproduction.

“…forests are often described as the lungs of the Earth because they’re important sources of oxygen, wetlands are described as the kidneys because they filter upstream pollutants.”

New development should try to work the site design around preserving large trees already thriving to provide health benefits, shade and stormwater reduction, as well as improved property values. When new plantings are appropriate, their location should be given serious consideration based on site conditions such as avoid wires, road signs, etc. Also if possible, trees should be planted on the east and west side of a structure to maximize energy savings by shading buildings during the summer and blocking winter winds. In addition trees have a benefit alongside streams provide stability to the bank, shade and maintain stream temperatures.

There is a correlation between the location of development or impervious surface, within a watershed and water quality. In a natural landscape, stormwater that is not penetrated runs off into waterways, but not without travelling first through vegetated stream bands, thereby being slowed down and filtered. When a watershed is developed, however, stormwater can be piped through sewer systems and paved drainage ditches picking up velocity and pollutants along the way.

Clean and plentiful drinking water depends on healthy wetlands. Changes to hydrology or species and vegetative composition may impair the ability of a wetland or riparian buffer to function properly. Such alterations can affect the ability of the wetland or riparian area to act as a filter for excess sedimentation and nutrients, which can result in deteriorated surface water quality.

Municipalities can utilize planning tools to improve their water quality through low impact development techniques, conservation development designs, riparian buffer regulations, protective overlay zoning, purchase of development rights or transferring development rights to preserve environmentally sensitive lands.

Communities, citizen groups, and individuals can also take an active role in protecting their drinking water sources from contamination by getting educated on water protection measures they can implement at home and business.

Trees for Tribs – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
How Can You Help Protect Source Water? | Source Water Protection | US EPA
Source Water Protection — Safe Drinking Water Foundation (