The benefits of trees are often taken for granted in our modern society. As our population expands, mankind has been clearing out thousands of acres of forested land for homes, streets, and shopping malls. We’ve watched as the city’s atmosphere thickens with smog and the air quality gets worse and worse. And we continue to see a rising temperature trend across our metropolitan regions. What does this have to with trees (you wonder)?
Aside from being the home and shelter to many animals and birds, trees clean up our environment. One of the benefits of trees is that their many leaves act as filters for the air we breathe. A large mature tree can have 200,000 – 400,000 leaves, each acting as a mini air filter. It’s estimated that the an acre of mature trees removes 13 tons of dust each year!. That’s dust that could be aggravating your sinuses or hampering your breathing…dust that you don’t have to contend with thanks to trees! Trees also remove gaseous pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. Trees are the most aesthetically pleasing & productive air filters on the market.
April showers can often lead to springtime flooding in many areas, which creates a challenge in storm water management. It can also take many days, if not weeks, for some areas to dry out (like my kids’ little league field?!). Tree roots pull in hundreds of gallons of water every day. Some larger trees have even been estimated to pump upwards of 600 gallons per day! I planted a River Birch behind our house in a soggy, muddy area. A few years later, this area is now a useful lawn space and play-area for the kids…with the planting of just one tree.
One of the better known benefits of trees is the oxygen that they provide. But did you know that in doing so they also remove hundreds of pounds carbon dioxide from our air? It’s estimated that an acre of large trees removes almost 6,000 pounds of carbon dioxide while providing over 4,000 pounds of oxygen.
Trees also provide a lot of cooling on hot summer days. In addition to the direct shade that they provide, a single tree can transpire almost a hundred gallons of water from their leaves every day. This evaporative cooling would be the same as having 5 room-sized air conditioners!
The benefits of trees are many and they provide much more than the few facts listed above. Trees beautify many streets, parks, and residential lots. They are home to countless species of birds and animals, and have formed the foundation of many a tree fort, swing and foothold for climbing young kids. They provide a shady spot for resting, an umbrella for wet weather, and fall colors that inspire the imagination. If you want to boost the physical and mental well being of your community, gather some friends…and plant some trees!!