Friday, August 30, 2013

The Virtues of Trees

Eco-novice on the endangered urban forest.

Trees are on the decline in American cities. Large American cities are losing trees four times as fast as they can be replanted. In some cities only one tree is being planted for every eight trees that are being lost. Most of these trees exist on private property. We should all be concerned about the health of our cities' forests because trees are important assets that provide all kinds of invaluable services.

Trees Are Amazing!

Trees Combat the Greenhouse Effect. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of carbon dioxide produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles. A typical healthy tree can remove up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air every year.

Trees Clean the Air. Trees absorb 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. They produce enough oxygen on each acre for 19 people every day.

Trees Save Energy. A single mature tree provides the cooling equivalent of five average room air conditioners running 12 hours per day. Trees also serve as windbreaks to save from 10 to 50% in energy used for heating.

Trees Cool Hot Cities. The collective cooling effect of trees reduces city temperatures 3 to 10 degrees.

Trees Conserve Water and Reduce Soil Erosion. Trees also reduce the amount of grease and oil transported to streams and oceans.

Trees in Cities Provide a Connection to Nature. They help create ecosystems that provide habitat and food for birds and animals.

Trees Are Good For Our Health.  Trees shorten post-operative hospital stays when patients are placed in rooms with a view of trees and open spaces. Trees also absorb and soften irritating noise from the urban environment.

Trees Increase Economic Stability. Apartments and offices with trees rent more quickly, have higher occupancy rates and tenants stay longer.

Trees Increase Property Values. Houses on tree-lined streets command prices that are 21 percent higher than houses in more barren areas.

Sources: Our City Forest and The Tree People.

We recently planted a tree in our backyard with the assistance and support of Our City Forest, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of trees in my metropolitan area. I feel so good about our decision to add a tree to our city's forest. I consider it one of the best "green" things I have ever done.

What can you do to protect and build your city's forest? 

  • Support strong ordinances for protecting trees (fines for illegal tree removal, etc.).
  • Find and support an organization promoting the urban forest in your metropolitan area.
  • Plant a tree! By carefully selecting an appropriate tree and proper location, you can avoid disrupting utilities or sidewalks, tree death, and other expensive mistakes. Consider consulting with an arborist before selecting and planting a tree.


Small Footprints said...

Wonderful post! Looking at great trees are, and all the benefits of having them around, one wonders why anyone would ever cut them. I learned something interesting about cutting a tree. When it's alive, it does a fabulous job of filtering out CO2 from our atmosphere ... but when it's cut, all the stored up CO2 escapes back out. So, we should avoid cutting trees. :-)

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

I know. I always feel sad when I pass a big stump where someone chopped down a tree near the street. Folks are just starting to really enforce laws protecting trees as they recognize that they too are part of a city's infrastructure and capital investment.

Green Bean said...

Truly fantastic post, Betsy, on what I agree is a critical green action we can take. I'm with you. My heart breaks a little bit every time I see someone cut down a healthy tree.


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