Throughout human history, trees have played an important role in improving the human condition, and some would argue, are crucial to our very existence. At the very beginning of our human experience, trees were considered sacred and honorable: oaks were worshipped by the European Druids, redwoods a part of Native American ritual, baobabs a part of African tribal life, and the ginkgo was revered by the Chinese. Early Romans, and scholars during the Middle Ages venerated trees in their literature. But unfortunately today, trees often fall prey to the misguided plans of men to “improve” their environment by ridding it of anything that grows.
The truth is, trees actually bring great value beside the obvious aesthetic benefits to our neighborhoods, communities, cities and world.
Celebrate Arbor Day – Plant Trees!
This year, Arbor Day will be celebrated nation-wide on April 26. The first Arbor Day, the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), a journalist and politician, took place on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. Throughout his long and productive career, Morton worked to improve agricultural techniques in his state and throughout the United States when he served as President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture. But his greatest legacy is Arbor Day. Today thousands of volunteers come together on Arbor Day each year to make their world a greener, cleaner place. You can too!
For information about how you can celebrate Arbor Day and make a difference in your community visit www.arborday.org.
Trees Produce Oxygen. Take a deep breath, courtesy of your neighborhood trees. A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. A forest acts as a giant filter that cleans the air we breathe.
Trees Clean the Soil. The term phytoremediation is a fancy word for the absorption of dangerous chemicals and other pollutants that have entered the soil. Trees can store harmful pollutants or actually change the pollutant into less harmful forms. Trees filter sewage and farm chemicals, reduce the effects of animal wastes, clean roadside spills and clean water runoff.
Trees Control Noise Pollution. Trees muffle urban noise almost as effectively as stone walls. Trees, planted at strategic points in a neighborhood or around a home, can abate major noises from freeways and airports.
Trees Slow Storm Water Runoff. Flash flooding can be dramatically reduced by a forest or by strategically planted trees. One Colorado blue spruce, either planted or growing wild, can intercept more than 1000 gallons of water annually when fully grown. Underground aquifers are recharged when trees slow down water runoff.
Trees Are Carbon Sponges. To produce its food, a tree absorbs and locks away carbon dioxide, a global warming culprit, in the wood, roots and leaves. A forest is a carbon sponge or a “sink” that can lock up as much carbon as it produces. This locking-up process “stores” carbon preventing if from becoming “greenhouse” gas.
Trees Clean the Air. Trees help cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Trees remove this air pollution by lowering air temperature, through respiration, and by retaining particulates.
Trees Shade and Cool. Shade from trees can reduce the need for air conditioning in summer, and in winter, trees break the force of winter winds, lowering heating costs. Studies have shown that parts of cities without shade from trees can literally be “heat islands” with temperatures as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit higher than surrounding areas.
Trees Act as Windbreaks. During windy and cold seasons, trees located on the windward side act as windbreaks. A windbreak can lower home heating bills up to 30%. A reduction in wind can also reduce the drying effect on soil and vegetation behind the windbreak and help keep precious topsoil in place.
Trees Fight Soil Erosion. Erosion control has always started with tree and grass planting projects. A tree’s roots bind the soil and their leaves break the force of wind and rain on soil. Trees fight soil erosion, conserve rainwater and reduce water runoff and sediment deposit after storms.
Trees Increase Property Values. Real estate values increase when trees beautify a property or neighborhood. Trees can increase the property value of your home by 15% or more.