City officials in Los Angeles have said they don't have enough water to irrigate all the trees in the city, so they are cutting down roughly 14,000 of those that are dead or dying from drought.
''It's difficult to say the specific cause of death. But the drought is a very much a very real contributing factor," said Laura Bauernfeind, ground maintenance supervisor for the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.
According to Kirsten Fisher, an assistant professor of biology at California State University in Los Angeles, there are numerous consequences that tree removal may have on local ecosystems and on park visitors.
"So if we take out trees and don't replace them it has a heat island effect. But it also reduces habitat for wild animals, so birds that are migrating through or other animals that rely on trees for shelter and food will not have those trees anymore. So of course, they will be eliminated.
"And a lot of those animals provide other ecosystem services. Like pollination of our flowers and our trees. They won't be around to do that. So that's a problem. And then on a sort of mental health note, trees in our environment really improve our mood, improve our emotions and our emotional state, and so removing them will also have sort of a emotional or psychological impact on city residents as well," said Fisher.
Bauernfeind says that given the historic drought, the city is doing a balancing act between saving the trees and enforcing people's safety at North Hollywood Park.
"The park is 55 acres. We have 950 trees. What we have scheduled for removal is about 56 trees. That's about 6%. That is a lot of trees when you look at the number, but there are still a lot of beautiful, mature trees here. So I don't think it's going to definitively change the park-going experience or affect how they enjoy the park."
The US Forest Service has been closely tracking tree deaths since the start of the drought, now in its fourth year. California's drought led to the deaths of 12.5m trees in the state's forests last year. Officials plan to start replanting trees once the drought eases off.