Help us celebrate Arbor Day by spreading the message: “Leave trees standing.” For 149 years Americans have marked today by planting trees—and while we know planting the right trees correctly can also help combat climate change, it is not a silver bullet, according to a new article in Popular Science. We must keep existing forests standing. They store carbon, provide habitat for wildlife and plants and prevent erosion.
Stefano Mancuso’s new book, The Nation of Plants, also makes a compelling argument against deforestation. “We have to understand this immediately and start defending the few residual large forests on the planet with all the available means and to the best of our ability. Deforestation should be considered a crime against humanity,” he writes.
We couldn’t agree more. Read more about the benefits of trees we compiled here:
● 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 support the lives of many large organisms. Trees are used for food, shelter, and sites for reproduction. Many animals also use trees for resting, nesting and for places from which to hunt or capture prey.
● When the trees mature, animals can enjoy delicious fruits and foraging opportunities. During times of extreme heat or precipitation, animals can seek shade and shelter under the trees without being away from their food source.
● Standing dead and dying trees, called “snags” are important for wildlife in both natural and landscaped settings, occurring because of disease, lightning, fire, animal damage, too much shade, drought, root competition, as well as old age. Birds, small mammals, and other wildlife use snags for nests, nurseries, storage areas, foraging, roosting, and perching. Live trees with snag-like features, such as hollow trunks, excavated cavities, and dead branches can provide similar wildlife value.
●The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the ground water supply. Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams.
●The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20–50 percent in energy used for heating.
●Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent.
●There are about 60–200 million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year and saving $4 billion in energy costs.
● In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.