TREES – ESSENTIAL FOR LIFE ON EARTH
Importance and Value of Trees
Since the beginning, trees have furnished us with two of life’s essentials, food and oxygen. As we evolved, they provided additional necessities such as shelter, medicine, and tools. Today, their value continues to increase and more benefits of trees are being discovered as their role expands to satisfy the needs created by our modern lifestyles.
The modern human community has other, more practical reasons to admire and honor trees. Here is a short list of reasons trees are necessary for improving our worldly condition.
Trees are vital As the biggest plants on the planet, they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. They also provide us with the materials for tools and shelter.
Not only are trees essential for life, but as the longest living species on earth, they give us a link between the past, present and future.
It’s critical that woodlands, rainforests and trees in urban settings, such as parks, are preserved and sustainably managed across the world. Play your part and adopt the trees in The Royal Parks today.
Trees benefit health
The canopies of trees act as a physical filter, trapping dust and absorbing pollutants from the air – removing up to 1.7 kilos per tree annually. They also provide shade from solar radiation and reduce noise.
Over 20 species of British trees and shrubs are known to have medicinal properties. The oil from birch bark, for example, has antiseptic properties.
Research shows that within minutes of being surrounded by trees and green space, your blood pressure will drop, your heart rate will slow and your stress levels will come down.
Trees benefit the environment
Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and the carbon that they store in their wood helps slow the rate of global warming.
They reduce wind speeds and cool the air as they lose moisture and reflect heat upwards from their leaves. It is estimated that trees can reduce the temperature in a city by up to 7°c.
Trees also help prevent flooding and soil erosion, absorbing thousands of litres of stormwater.
Trees boost wildlife
Trees host complex microenvironments. When young, they offer habitation and food to amazing communities of birds, insects, lichen and fungi. When ancient, they also provide the hollow cover needed by species such as bats, woodboring beetles, tawny owls and woodpeckers.
One mature oak can be home to as many as 500 different species. Richmond Park is full of such trees – which is one of the reasons why it has been designated a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Trees strengthen communities
Trees strengthen the distinctive character of a place and encourage local pride. Urban woodland can be used as an educational resource and to bring groups together for activities like walking and bird-watching. Trees are also invaluable for children to play in and discover their sense of adventure.
Trees grow the economy
People are attracted to live, work and invest in green surroundings. Research shows that average house prices are between 5%-18% higher where properties are close to mature trees and companies benefit from a healthier, happier workforce if there are parks and trees nearby.
Trees protect the Future
Soon, for the first time in history, the number of people with homes in cities will outstrip those living in the countryside – so parks and trees will become an even more vital component of urban life. We must respect them and protect them for the future.
Community and Social Value
Trees are an important part of every community. Our streets, parks, playgrounds and backyards are lined with trees that create a peaceful, aesthetically pleasing environment. Trees increase our quality of life by bringing natural elements and wildlife habitats into urban settings. We gather under the cool shade they provide during outdoor activities with family and friends. Many neighborhoods are also the home of very old trees that serve as historic landmarks and a great source of town pride.
In addition, architectural and engineering functions are served by your community’s trees. They frame landscapes, create beautiful backgrounds and enhance building designs. Trees can provide privacy, emphasize beautiful views, and screen unsightly areas. Noise from roadways and other urban activities is muffled by well-placed trees that serve as sound barriers. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that trees can reduce bothersome noise by up to 50% and mask unwanted noises with pleasant, natural sounds. Using trees in cities to deflect the sunlight reduces the heat island effect caused by pavement and commercial buildings.
Ecological and Environmental Value
Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” Trees, shrubs and turf also filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. After trees intercept unhealthy particles, rain washes them to the ground.
Trees control climate by moderating the effects of the sun, rain and wind. Leaves absorb and filter the sun’s radiant energy, keeping things cool in summer. Trees also preserve warmth by providing a screen from harsh wind. In addition to influencing wind speed and direction, they shield us from the downfall of rain, sleet and hail. Trees also lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide.
Both above and below ground, trees are essential to the eco-systems in which they reside. Far reaching roots hold soil in place and fight erosion. Trees absorb and store rainwater which reduce runoff and sediment deposit after storms. This helps the ground water supply recharge, prevents the transport of chemicals into streams and prevents flooding. Fallen leaves make excellent compost that enriches soil.
Many animals, including elephants, koalas and giraffes eat leaves for nourishment. Flowers are eaten by monkeys, and nectar is a favorite of birds, bats and many insects. Animals also eat much of the same fruit that we enjoy This process helps disperse seeds over great distances. Of course, hundreds of living creatures call trees their home. Leaf-covered branches keep many animals, such as birds and squirrels, out of the reach of predators.
Personal and Spiritual Value
The main reason we like trees is because they are both beautiful and majestic. No two are alike. Different species display a seemingly endless variety of shapes, forms, textures and vibrant colors. Even individual trees vary their appearance throughout the course of the year as the seasons change. The strength, long lifespan and regal stature of trees give them a monument-like quality. Most of us react to the presence of trees with a pleasant, relaxed, comfortable feeling. In fact, many people plant trees as living memorials of life-changing events.
Trees help record the history of your family as they grow and develop alongside you and your kids. We often make an emotional connection with trees we plant or become personally attached to the ones that we see every day. These strong bonds are evidenced by the hundreds of groups and organizations across the country that go to great lengths to protect and save particularly large or historic trees from the dangers of modern development. How many of your childhood memories include the trees in your backyard or old neighborhood? The sentimental value of a special tree is simply immeasurable.
Practical and Commercial Value
Trees have supported and sustained life throughout our existence. They have a wide variety of practical and commercial uses. Wood was the very first fuel, and is still used for cooking and heating by about half of the world’s population. Trees provide timber for building construction, furniture manufacture, tools, sporting equipment, and thousands of household items. Wood pulp is used to make paper.
We are all aware of apples, oranges and the countless other fruits and nuts provided by trees, as well as the tasty syrup of North American sugar maples. But did you know the bark of some trees can be made into cork and is a source of chemicals and medicines? Quinine and aspirin are both made from bark extracts. The inner bark of some trees contains latex, the main ingredient of rubber. How many more uses can you name?
Property Value and Economic Value
Individual trees and shrubs have value and contribute to savings, but it is the collective influence of a well-maintained landscape that makes a real economic impact and has the greatest effect on property value. Direct economic benefits come from a savings in energy costs. Cooling costs are reduced in a tree-shaded home, and heating costs lowered when a tree serves as a windbreak. According to the USDA Forest Service, “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save 20-50 percent in energy used for heating.”
Property values of homes with well-maintained landscapes are up to 20% higher than others. Here are some eye-opening facts and statistics regarding the effect of healthy trees and shrubs:
- Homes with “excellent” landscaping can expect a sale price 6-7% higher than equivalent houses with “good” landscaping. Improving “average” to “good” landscaping can result in a 4-5% increase.
– Clemson University
- Landscaping can bring a recovery value of 100-200% at selling time. (Kitchen remodeling brings 75-125%, bathroom remodeling 20-120%)
– Money Magazine
- A mature tree can have an appraised value between $1000 and $10,000.
– Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers
- 99% of real estate appraisers concurred that landscaping enhances the sales appeal of real estate.
– Trendnomics, National Gardening Association
- 98% of realtors believe that mature trees have a “strong or moderate impact” on the salability of homes listed for over $250,000 (83% believe the same for homes listed under $150,000).
– American Forests, Arbor National Mortgage
1. Trees Produce Oxygen
What many people don’t realize is the forest also acts as a giant filter that cleans the air we breath.
2. 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 either 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 into streams.
3. Trees Control Noise Pollution
Trees muffle urban noise almost as effectively as stone walls. Trees, planted at strategic points in a neighborhood or around your house, can abate major noises from freeways and airports.
4. Trees Slow Storm Water Runoff
Flash flooding can be dramatically reduced by a forest or by planting trees. One Colorado blue spruce, either planted or growing wild, can intercept more than 1000 gallons of water annually when fully grown. Underground water-holding aquifers are recharged with this slowing down of water runoff.
5. Trees Are Carbon Sinks
To produce its food, a tree absorbs and locks away carbon dioxide in the wood, roots and leaves. Carbon dioxide is a global warming suspect. A forest is a carbon storage area or a “sink” that can lock up as much carbon as it produces. This locking-up process “stores” carbon as wood and not as an available “greenhouse” gas.
6. 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.
7. Trees Shade and Cool
Shade resulting in cooling is what a tree is best known for. Shade from trees reduces the need for air conditioning in summer. In winter, trees break the force of winter winds, lowering heating costs. Studies have shown that parts of cities without cooling shade from trees can literally be “heat islands” with temperatures as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit higher than surrounding areas.
8. 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% and have a significant effect on reducing snow drifts. A reduction in wind can also reduce the drying effect on soil and vegetation behind the windbreak and help keep precious topsoil in place.
9. Trees Fight Soil Erosion
Erosion control has always started with tree and grass planting projects. Tree 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.
10. 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.
What can we do to save the Trees?