From our very early school years in Essex we’re told that trees are an essential part of our ecosystem. That we should take care of them and not cut them down. But why? What do trees really do and why are they so important to our planet?
To begin, trees produce oxygen. Trees act like filters that clean our air. In one season a single tree produces as much oxygen as 10 humans will consume in an entire year. Without trees we wouldn’t have clean oxygen to breath.
In addition to producing oxygen trees also absorb the harmful gasses that live in the air such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. By lowering the air temperature trees are able to remove air pollution.
Trees also clean the soil. They filter sewage, reduce the effects of animal wastes, clean roadside spills and filter farm chemicals to either convert harmful pollutants in the soil to helpful ones, or to absorb them altogether.
In terms of our immediate interests, trees are a great way to filter out loud noises. It is proven that trees muffle noise as much as a stone wall. It’s no wonder that people who live in the countryside live such calm existences. This is a key benefit to developing green areas within urban centres.
Trees are also known for their ability to cool and shade. From a sustainable energy perspective, this might mean reducing the constraint of natural resources by planting a big tree on the outside of the sunny side of a building. Not only will this keep the people in the building cool during summer months, but it will do so while lowering the electricity bill. Of course trees also provide to shade to individuals sitting beneath them and large areas surrounded by them.
Those are the environmental benefits of trees but what about their social and communal benefits? After all trees are beautiful and therefore make life more beautiful. Lying in a hammock under a weeping willow calms us in a way that only a weeping willow can do. Watching the flowers of a magnolia tree open in the spring can’t be replaced by anything else either.
Trees that exist within the public parts of a community belong to the whole community. They are the trees that the children of that community will grow up playing on. Swinging on their branches, building forts in their crowns and reading beneath.
Trees are a critical part of our planet for a number of reasons, which is why they need to be taken care of. Love the trees that surround you and your planet will thank you for it.