The Amazon is burning! Forests are being cleared by the football-field! Trees are being cut back or felled!
These things are awful, but why should we care? What have trees got to do with us?
Why do we need trees?
You might have heard that trees are the “lungs of the Earth”.
In a nutshell, this is how it works: Humans and animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Trees and plants use carbon dioxide, water and light during photosynthesis and release oxygen. At the same time, and especially at night, trees also use oxygen, but generally growing plants release more oxygen than they use.
Hence humans, animals, trees and plants are all dependent on each other for essential molecules in the air to stay alive.
It is estimated that per year, each person uses the oxygen created by 7-8 mature (older/larger) trees.
It’s not just the larger forests like the Amazon rainforest we should be worried about. Where you live, how many individual trees or small forests have been cut back or completely cleared? All of these are essential to life on Earth.
Trees provide shelter and homes for lots of wildlife.
The idea that it’s somehow okay to cut back or chop down individual trees, as long as it’s not during the nesting season for birds (in Spring) is bizarre – as birds and other creatures such as squirrels, mice, spiders, caterpillars/butterflies, bees and a wide variety of other insects rely on trees all year round, and especially in winter, to rest or sleep in, as food sources, and for twigs and leaves to use for their nests/cocoons to bring up their young in.
Larger animals such as Orangutans, Pandas, Koalas and many monkeys and apes live most of their lives in trees. Even if wildlife don’t actually live in trees, they may rely on the shade, foliage and shelter of trees or forests to survive.
Trees improve environments and help slow climate change.
Trees trap odours, noise and pollutants in their leaves and bark. They absorb carbon from carbon dioxide and thus help to slow or reverse the ‘greenhouse effect’ which may be contributing to over-warming our planet. Trees reduce soil erosion as their roots trap and hold soil in place.
Trees act as barriers to break up water runoff, and so can help reduce flooding. Trees shade us from harmful UV rays, and reduce water evaporation so help to save water. Trees provide natural cooling in hot, concrete urban environments thus make cities and towns more pleasant to live in.
Trees make us feel calm, bring people together and are healing.
The greenness of trees and forests increases people’s sense of peace. Studies have shown that where people have trees and plants in their home or work surroundings, they feel happier and less tired or stressed. Trees and parks attract people and encourage them to spend time together, relax and unwind.
Trees and plants provide many natural ingredients from their leaves, bark or sap which have been shown to heal numerous aliments, including digestive issues, insect bites, and even cancer, without us needing to rely on harmful pharmaceutical drugs.
Next time you’re about to cut back or fell a tree, think again!
People get out the cutting shears or call in the tree surgeons because a tree is “in the way”, “spoiling your view”, or just “getting too big”.
These are simply not good enough reasons to get rid of trees or foliage when they are so important to our, and other creatures’ survival.
Become a tree advocate and defender instead, and plant and protect trees!
How many trees does it take to produce oxygen for one person? – https://www.sciencefocus.com/planet-earth/how-many-trees-does-it-take-to-produce-oxygen-for-one-person/
Living among trees: Five animals that depend on forests – https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/living-among-the-trees-five-animals-that-depend-on-forests
Oxygen for plants – can plants live without oxygen – https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/info/can-plants-live-without-oxygen.htm
Photosynthesis – https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zpwmxnb/revision/1
Study: The more trees we’re surrounded by, the lower our stress levels – https://returntonow.net/2018/09/21/study-the-more-trees-were-surrounded-by-the-lower-our-stress-levels/
The benefits of trees – https://canopy.org/tree-info/benefits-of-trees/
Top 22 benefits of trees – https://www.treepeople.org/tree-benefits
16 medicinal trees for your herbal medicine chest – https://practicalselfreliance.com/medicinal-trees/
5 reasons we need trees for a healthy planet – https://www.earthday.org/5-reasons-we-need-trees-for-a-healthy-planet/
Fire in forest with children in river: Image by Ria Sopala from pixabay.com
Red squirrel in tree: Image by Capri23auto from pixabay.com
Koala in tree: Image by Syahir Hakim from pixabay.com
Central Park trees: Image by David Mark from pixabay.com