Live, breathing historical records are trees. Trees have been around for 385 million years. During the Ice Age and when the Pyramids of Giza were brand new, trees were around. These organisms are some of the oldest living things on earth and have a huge impact on the environment and human civilization.
Nevertheless, it’s easy to forget the value of trees. Due to climate change and the need for collective action to save the Earth, it’s crucial that we regularly revisit the true values of trees to remind ourselves just how interdependent our environment is.
The value of trees in our environment
The trees we have in our environments play an important role in maintaining homeostasis. Understanding the multifaceted role of trees in climate action is crucial because it will highlight the importance of tree planting and reforestation.
Let’s get started!
- Trees improve water quality
Rain is effectively slowed down by trees and allowed to soak into the soil. Trees play a critical role in preventing stormwater runoff in urban areas: they act as natural sponges that collect and filter rainfall, releasing it slowly (and cleanly) into streams and rivers. Additionally, trees reduce soil erosion, which affects water quality as silt is carried away by the wind into nearby water sources.
- Trees minimize the disastrous effects of carbon dioxide emissions
When it comes to acting as a carbon sink, trees are important. The carbon sink refers to anything that stores carbon-containing chemical compounds, which lowers the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Due to the rapid and fast-paced industrial activities that release unhealthy amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the need for a carbon sink has never been greater.
Without trees, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to regulate the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. This would greatly threaten the fragile balance that is crucial for the wellbeing of our planet.
A mature tree can absorb around 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year according to statistics. Forests absorb at least 40% of carbon dioxide emissions caused by human activity. Without these trees, these emissions would have reached our outer atmosphere, damaging our ozone layer and exposing our planet to even more harmful radiation. Tree planting and reforestation are the most effective means of controlling this growing problem and restoring the ozone layer.
- Trees improve air quality
Trees are often called the “lungs” of the earth, but they also have a liver function.
Besides reducing carbon dioxide levels, trees also absorb numerous other toxins and pollutants emitted from industrial activities. Nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter including acids, metals, and dust from factories and vehicles are among these pollutants. As a result of this absorption, we breathe clean, safe air and are protected against various respiratory diseases. The more trees you have in an urban area, the cleaner the air is likely to be. Did you know that some trees are better air filters than others?
- Trees greatly enhance soil health
The roots of trees hold the soil together, so they improve soil health. The flood control feature prevents soil erosion and keeps the land fertile, supporting vegetation, as well as other farming practices.
Trees protect and aid in the generation of topsoil, which forms so slowly that it can be called a limited resource. Tree canopies create shade that helps regulate soil temperatures. Lastly, dense forest cover is a haven for birds and animals, resulting in more organic matter than is enriched in the soil.
- Trees create a cool environment
When you walk by a patch of trees, does the temperature drop a degree or two? That’s the magic of trees! As well as acting as a barrier against floods, trees also release water vapor into the environment. In this case, evapotranspiration occurs through the leaves, producing a cooling effect.
Additionally, trees act as a natural shade for the ground and buildings, which makes the environment pleasant, especially during the summer. One mature tree has a cooling effect comparable to ten air conditioners!
- Forests are a source of timber, fibre, fuel, and food products
The forest is a food, shelter, and timber source for many families. Moreover, trees provide the timber used in construction and industries to produce a variety of finished goods. This, in turn, helps to create jobs and research opportunities at every step of the supply chain, such that entire lives depend on trees’ existence.
- Trees help biodiversity flourish
An area with a greater biodiversity is considered to have a healthier ecology. Planting outside woodlands and allowing portions of land to recover naturally are vital for restoring natural habitats and animal corridors.
When we continue to have these thriving, we reduce the chances of wild animals wandering into cities and endangering both themselves and humans. It’s not just trees — a variety in plant species will create a diverse ecosystem with balanced food chains.
- Trees serve the medical sector
Tree planting is also very valuable when it comes to serving the medical industry. Experts have claimed that every four square miles of rainforest contains around 1,500 different types of plants and 750 different trees.
This biodiversity causes many organisms to develop chemicals, which can then be collected and researched by pharmaceutical companies for medical purposes. About 25 percent of western pharmaceuticals come from rainforests, and at least 121 prescription drugs are sourced from plant derivatives.
- Trees give us a breath of fresh air from city life
Forests outside cities and urban areas have immense recreational value because they are hotspots of biodiversity. The area is perfect for hiking, birdwatching, forest bathing, and learning about nature. This is beneficial in a cyclical manner: the more time we spend with trees, the more we understand them, and the more determined we are to preserve them.
The final word
The points not only reflect the value of trees, but they also encourage tree planting and reforestation. We depend on trees for so much of what we do (no matter how far away we may live from them). Their cultural and spiritual significance is immense.
Considering all this, it is imperative that we plant more trees. The government and organizations should make policies that encourage tree planting and we must take personal initiative.
EveryOne can assist organizations and individuals in doing this with transparent tree planting processes that green the earth, protect livelihoods, and decisively act towards saving the planet. As well as planting more trees, we should also preserve and nurture our existing forests – after all, you can’t clap with one hand.
As the longest-living plant species on earth, trees provide food and serve as a link between past, present, and future. Forests, forests, and trees in urban settings, such as parks, must be protected and managed responsibly worldwide!