Why are Trees Important?

gorgeous, generous, green, giant gems!

Earth Day leads us right into Arbor Day. But why do we have a day that celebrates trees? Why are trees important?

When you were a kid, did you love to climb trees?  Make things out of their leaves and sticks?  Watch them bloom in spring, sit under their shade in summer, and explode their gorgeous colors in autumn?  Then collect those leaves and jump into piles, undoing all the raking work your parents made you do?

I have a secret- I still do most of these things and throw in a hug and a little conversation on occasion.  I just love trees!  Turns out, there are a good many reasons to be fascinated with them.  Other than the beautiful obvious, tree are important for so many other reasons. Let’s take a stroll through the knowledge forest, shall we?

trees are important because…

they are habitats for wildlife

Trees provide homes for squirrels, raccoons, birds, bees, treefrogs, and lots of insects.  When we plant trees, it’s like building a big apartment complex for nature! It improves biodiversity and creates safe places for wildlife to move through and shelter within.  It also fosters healthy soil for underground insects too.

they are a useful natural resource

We cut down trees.  A lot of trees.  We use trees for their wood, production of paper and cardboard, toilet paper and more.  Although trees are considered a renewable resource, their growth rate is slow.  And forests actually are not considered a renewable resource.  Seeking alternatives to trees from old arboreal forests and slow-growing trees is in our best interest.  We should focus on eco-friendly alternatives, such as recycled content, bamboo, or fast-growing plant substitutes, such as fungi.

trees help cool a city

in cities, they are massively important in reducing urban heat island effect

Urban heat island effect is increased temperatures caused by an overabundance of heat-absorbing surfaces, such as paved roads, sidewalks, buildings and parking areas.  By planting trees along sidewalks and having natural areas in cities, temperatures can drop 10˚F!  This decreases the strain on local air conditioning units and energy use, which helps reduce CO2 emissions and saves money.  This can also be true for homes outside of the city.  A properly placed tree can help shade your home from the intense sun in summer, lowering your electric bills.

they preserve soil

During heavy rains and storms, soil can erode and run off into nearby streams and waterways.  Trees help soil retention by holding onto the soil with their roots and helping aerate and break up soil underground to capture more water.  Without these root structures, soil can get compact and lifeless, with the topsoil eroding with rain or wind.  (Think treeless plains in the Dust Bowl.)


they conserve and manage water flow

This is important for thirsty lawns or plants.  By providing large swaths of shade, trees help retain moisture in the ground, making it available for other plants by reducing evaporation.  Their roots make space for the water, which can be taken up later by other plant species.  Since they provide water capture, they can help reduce flooding episodes and runoff.

they sequester carbon

Trees literally turn our major climate change nemesis into oxygen, our life hero.  How cool is that?  Don’t misquote me here- we need CO2.  It’s one of the greenhouse gases that keeps the Earth’s temperature within a livable zone.  But we are in grave danger of flying past the level that is considered safe in our atmosphere.  In a time when we are emitting unprecedented amounts of CO2 (mainly via fossil fuel usage), we are rapidly cutting down trees that sequester carbon.  Double whammy.  Bad move. Super poor planning.  Check out this article to learn more about climate change. And please visit www.350.org for some impassioned and inspiring info.    

alright, i’m convinced that trees are pretty much the best.  so how can I plant more ?

So glad you asked!

For homeowners, I’d definitely recommend Arbor Day Foundation.  Just by donating, they will send you trees appropriate for your area.

You can check out native plant sales this spring.  Many will have created online ordering forms to accommodate current ‘stay-at-home’ orders.

Support local nurseries, and pick up a few trees from them.  Be sure to ask for native trees for greater growing success and a cohesive ecosystem for your local wildlife.

If you are not a homeowner, don’t own land to plant, but still want to give the world more trees (thank you!) please check out some of these sites.  Donations plant trees to help our fight against climate change and species loss.

The Nature Conservancy

One Tree Planted

The US Forest Service

And what about Mother’s Day gifts?  What better gift for the person who has everything, than a promise of an inhabitable planet for the future?  And an awesome eco-friendly hoodie, of course.  Visit Save Lands to purchase eco-friendly gifts or items.  They plant 12 trees with every purchase!    

Or…are you a financial badass willing to take a little risk to some dough to save the planet (and possibly make some back in 8-12 years?)  Check out this awesome wefunder opportunity!  And how cool are Empress trees, guys?  Fast-growing, carbon snacking, resilient, hardwood beauties. (please note, I am not a financial advisor, and hereby absolve myself of any responsibility for your gains or losses.)

Well, that’s about it- thanks for joining me in talking about the importance of trees.  They’re amazing, and you’re amazing for caring.  Now, get on outta here and go plant, love, hug, respect, and admire some trees, guys!

carbon snacking, water managing, soil saving, habitat forming, heat reducing, oxygen emitting beauties!

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