Trees are one of the greatest tools for creating a more sustainable environment and mitigate climate change. But what is it that makes them such a tremendous gift from nature? Why are trees good for the environment?
Trees provide a wide range of benefits to our living spaces, reducing carbon emissions, improving soil quality, and various social benefits, among many others. Trees offer increasingly more value to our planet, which is why there are many initiatives to plant trees around the world.
We cannot put a price on our planet because we simply wouldn’t be able to live without it. Avoiding the effects of climate change on our planet and reducing carbon emissions should be the primary focus of all human endeavors.
Nothing will make a more significant difference than growing more trees and protecting those that are already supporting so much of life on earth as we know it. So let’s explore all of the far-reaching benefits that trees have for our environment.
8 Environmental Benefits Of Planting Trees
1. Reducing Climate Change
Trees are one of the finest weapons in our arsenal in the battle to reduce carbon emissions and avoiding a global climate catastrophe.
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Trees absorb carbon dioxide, store it and release oxygen into the atmosphere. This is due to a process called photosynthesis.
All plants use photosynthesis to create energy and grow, but trees are the most effective at reducing carbon and releasing oxygen in vast quantities.
FUN FACT! A mature tree absorbs about 48lbs (22kg) of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. Multiply that by a few million (or even billion) newly planted trees and we’d be able to put a huge dent in our efforts to reverse the catastrophic impacts that industries and individual consumption have on our environment.
Trees can convert energy absorbed from the sun’s rays into energy through a chemical process called cellular respiration.
Through this process, trees and other plants convert carbon dioxide and water from underground into fresh oxygen through a metabolic process while storing sugars, starches, and other carbohydrates in their leaves/fruit.
Photosynthesis is the mechanism that’s maintaining the Earth’s oxygen content and is therefore responsible for all life on Earth.
They also clean water and release moisture into the atmosphere, creating precipitation (rain), recycling the fundamental requirement for all life.
More than that, by supporting wildlife, trees can also maintain secondary parts of the ecosystem. The highly diverse group of animals that rely on trees to survive also play their own unique roles in preserving other parts of the environment that we need to protect.
Above this, trees planted around our homes effectively insulate our houses from cold winter winds and sweltering summer sunshine, which helps preserve the energy used by heating and cooling systems in our homes, further contributing to reductions in carbon emissions.
2. Purifying Air
Trees absorb carbon dioxide and take in odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and ozone), and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.
In an industrialized world, where air pollution is so commonplace, trees serve as filters that clean the air, protecting all animals that breathe air (including humans) from the harmful effects of breathing pollutants on our health. Just one acre of trees provides enough oxygen every year for 18 people.
3. Saving Water
Beyond trees’ air producing and cleaning mechanisms, they do the same with water, filtering nitrogen and pollutants like phosphorous out of stormwater, which would flow into oceans and other bodies of water.
And, because of the shade that trees provide, water evaporates from low vegetation, making trees an excellent water source.
DID YOU KNOW? Trees release anywhere between 200 and 450 gallons (757 and 1703.44 liters) of water into the air every day and only require roughly 15 gallons (57 liters) a week to survive.
We cannot live without water, and trees are nature’s best source, even though we don’t see it. Trees mitigate water pollution by preventing stormwater from running off into the ocean with their trunks and recharging groundwater supplies.
4. Reducing Soil Erosion
Trees can also prevent soil erosion, promote soil fertility, and retain underground water while also reducing water temperatures.
5. Improving Health
Studies have found that exposure to trees can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and, slow heart rates. Patients in hospitals can recover faster if they have a view of trees, and children with ADHD find it easier to focus in the presence of trees.
In addition to the cleaner air and water and other preventative health benefits that trees provide, makes trees one of nature’s greatest healers.
6. Social Benefits
It may seem strange, but trees have many benefits for our collective sense of unity. They can serve as neighborhood landmarks, giving each a unique identity and promoting civic pride.
Initiatives to plant trees in public spaces are commonplace and provide an opportunity for people to get involved in their communities for the greater cause of preserving our environment.
They also beautify living spaces, which improves mental health. In fact, there is also evidence that trees can reduce crime, with studies showing that crime rates are higher in neighborhoods without trees in comparison to their greener counterparts.
Trees alsos help reduce noise pollution in urban areas and absorb sound, making an enormously positive difference to people’s lives.
7. Economic Benefits
Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it certainly seems to grow around them. Business districts with trees attract higher levels of economic activity.
Furthermore, property values increase in neighborhoods with trees, and it has been found that property values are roughly 20% higher in houses with well-maintained landscapes.
The savings, economically, from reduced costs of heating and cooling neighborhoods with insulating trees all add up as well. The same applies to the economic savings brought about by water conservation.
Trees that bear fruit also provide economic opportunities for people to grow and sell fresh produce for a living, while wood is a good source for fuel and construction. Other materials like paper and rubber are harvested from trees.
Planting trees and other “green jobs” present a new set of opportunities for people to get an education, find jobs, and innovate.
8. Shelter for Wildlife
Trees provide canopies and habitats that can support incredibly diverse wildlife.
According to the World Wildlife Federation, at least 10,000 species go extinct every year. This is mainly due to deforestation and the effects of climate change and the subsequent destruction of their natural habitats, such as rainforests.
Our encroachment on their natural habitats forces animals to live in clusters that are increasingly shrinking, increasing the chances of infectious diseases that can mutate and infect new species.
Several species on the verge of extinction due to our mistreatment of the environment, such as bees, are vital parts of our ecosystems. Planting trees and restoring various species’ natural habitats will prevent changing migration patterns that have the potential to disrupt the global ecosystem.
Why We Can’t Afford A World Without Trees
Can you imagine a world without trees? With forests covering almost 30% of the Earth’s surface and a population count of 3.04 trillion trees, they are the lifeblood of our planet.
Besides our oceans (which trees protect from pollution), nothing on Earth is more important to creating and sustaining life than these unassuming natural wonders.
And, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, about 18 million acres of forest are lost to industrial processes every year. At the current rate, the world’s rainforests will begin to disappear in 100 years.
If humanity does not take the threat of global deforestation seriously, we can say goodbye to clean air, more and more species of plants, and wildlife.
The effects of climate change will be accelerated without protecting the footsoldiers in our battle against the impending environmental catastrophe.
We will lose one of the earth’s most extraordinary and fundamental natural functions that support life. The changes to our weather patterns alone would fundamentally disrupt the natural order of our planet.
The importance of preserving our rainforests and ending deforestation has not been lost on many people all over the globe, including governments and world leaders, along with environmental advocacy groups.
1. Working With Businesses
For example, the US, Norway formed a public-private initiative, working with businesses such as Amazon, Airbnb, McKinsey, Nestlé, Salesforce, and Unilever. The LEAF (Lowering Emissions By Accelerating Forest finance) Coalition has ambitious goals to support the radical reduction of global emissions. For example, they’re aiming to limit global warming to 1.5ºC.
2. Working Against Crimes
Another initiative, although not necessarily an environmental movement, is the Global Initiative Against Organized Crime’s report on the links between deforestation and human trafficking, which would mitigate many of the emissions produced by organized crime and labor exploitation.
3. Protecting The Forests
In 2019, the European Commission adopted a resolution to protect and restore the world’s forests. This included a commitment to encourage deforestation-free supply chains and partner with trade partners to reduce the pressures on forests.
4. Planting More Trees
The Global Tree Initiative is an organization that allows you to donate money to them, and you’ll get a tree planted for you in exchange. It also helps families in need through various employment opportunities and food programs.
So, if you cannot plant a tree yourself, it is possible to simply use your hard-earned bucks to do something meaningful that will go a long way towards conservation efforts.
5. Conserving and Expanding Forests
The Climate and Land Use Alliance is another global initiative supporting international public and private sector collaborations that target the conservation of forests and natural habitats worldwide. They also want to expand forests to reduce carbon emissions and support various initiatives to provide opportunities to rural communities that can aid in conservation efforts.
6. Restoring Forests and Woodlands
The REDD+ initiative was also created in response to deforestation and focused on restoring forests and woodlands in tropical areas primarily. Through various financing programs and phased strategies, the REDD+ Initiative also encourages private-public collaborations to achieve their conservation goals.
Our climate catastrophe coincides with the advent of breakthrough technologies that would also catalyze ending deforestation, reducing emissions, and turning around the status quo.
For example, Unilever is using geospatial analytics to capture data that allows for more oversight in supply chains while using satellites to monitor vulnerable forests.
FUN FACT! NASA, the University of Maryland, and the US Geological Survey (USGS) developed a technology that uses the Google Earth Engine to map out global deforestation in high resolution and monitor changes in the forests’ landscapes.
With the data collected, we can use automated planting systems to help restore many of the forests that have already been lost.
A business model to serve the commercialization of green initiatives can help overturn the “use-and-dispose-of” consumer culture that contributes towards climate change more than anything else.
Automated planting is managed by smart, Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with machine learning software that offers the benefit of being significantly less expensive than manual, human labor.
It can carry out tasks significantly more efficiently. The mapping technology can also improve uptake rates by monitoring which areas have a higher likelihood of supporting forest development.
With the use of emerging technologies like this, we can ensure that supply chains are appropriately managed, mitigating exploitation and aiding in our efforts to restore forests. We face an uphill battle in the fight to save the planet, and we need to use everything at our disposal to combat climate change.
The technologies defining the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as 5G, AI, Robotics, and renewable energy sources, of course, may be one of the best weapons in our arsenal.
Can Trees Save The Planet?
Given everything that we’ve learned about trees, how fundamental they are to the air that we breathe and the water we drink, among endless other benefits, how they are an army serving as guardians to vulnerable ecosystems, and how they can mitigate or even reverse the effects of climate change.
But can they save the planet all on their own?
While trees take an incredibly long time to grow, it has been estimated that if we plant five billion trees per year, we would be able to neutralize carbon emissions in their entirety at our current global emissions output. So, yes, trees could save the planet. We just have to plant them at an extraordinary rate.
But beyond that incredibly ambitious target, global awareness about the importance of trees and everything they do for us, the conditions they create for life to survive and thrive cannot be overstated.
A collective effort would make that lofty goal more attainable than you think. After all, there are seven billion of us sharing this planet. If every person plants on a tree once a year, we’re overshooting our goal.
It may seem like such a simple solution, but trees will spruce up your neighborhood, improve the value of properties, insulate your homes, improve your health, and so many other things.
Why not make an effort to make a mark on the world that could last for decades or even centuries? Plant a tree today and save the world!
Trees aren’t just good for the environment; they are a fundamental part of it. We simply cannot survive without them, and the more, the merrier.
But this also means that we have to do everything within our power as the human race to protect all of the trees supporting life on Earth as it is today.
Failing to do so will have devastating consequences for future generations and, at this rate, those consequences may come to pass far earlier than we’re expecting.
As deforestation continues, ecological Armageddon edges closer and closer. There are many rare species of animals that may not be there tomorrow.
Trees are symbolic of the natural beauty that the world has to offer. We need to treat them with reverence, change our lifestyles and commit ourselves to lend a hand to restoration efforts.
We need to join advocacy groups, donate towards various organizations and do our part to spread awareness and hold our political leaders and big businesses accountable for their respective roles in the intertwined fates of our planet, our trees, and our future.
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