Why Plant Trees?
Trees have always been a key symbol of the environmental movement and there are many like-minded organisations devoting considerable time and energy to planting trees. However, a valid question to pose to any tree planting organisation is why dedicate time and resources to plant trees? Some reasons to justify this are obvious, some not so. Below are some key factors that attempt to show trees are more than a token symbol of environmentalism, they are in fact key components to global ecosystems.
Trees act as natural filters of our air. Through the process of photosynthesis trees absorb carbon dioxide (a key greenhouse gas and principle contributor to global warming) from the atmosphere and store the carbon in their trunk, branches, leaves, roots, soil and foliage, while releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. The debate about the use of trees for climate change mitigation has been somewhat heated over recent times, however there is a solid consensus emerging from sound scientific studies that under certain conditions trees do provide a viable means for the net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. Click here to read further information.
Trees Produce Oxygen
A fundamental requirement for all animals is a supply of oxygen. Through the process of photosynthesis, trees and other vegetation supply us with this vital gas. One mature tree produces enough oxygen for 10 people to inhale in a year.
Trees improve biodiversity and provide habitat for wildlife
Up to 90% of all terrestrial animals live in association with forest habitats. In simple terms, the less trees the less viable habitat for many species. This will ultimately lead to species extinction, first locally and in many cases globally. Through the restoration of native forest you are providing new or improved habitat for a number of animal species that rely on forests for food and shelter. The animal diversity not only improves in areas that have undergone restoration; plant life equally benefits. Once a framework of tree species is established nature takes over and many additional plant and tree species will regenerate naturally through actions such as seed dispersal facilitated by the increased presence of birds and mammals. To learn more about the forest restoration techniques PATT employs please click here.
The removal of trees from the landscape can have disastrous repercussions in terms of making such areas more prone to landslide. Erosion control most frequently involves the planting of tree, shrub or grass species. The roots of the vegetation bind the soil and prevent erosion.
The instance of flash flooding has been shown to be reduced by the presence of forests. Also in areas prone to drought the addition of trees to the landscape can aid in the conservation of precious water resources. Trees slow down water runoff after periods of heavy rainfalls and help to recharge underground water-holding aquifers.
Tree and temperature control
A phenomenon reported from cities is known as the heat island effect where the proliferation of concrete and other man-made structures and actions lead to higher temperatures. In these urbanised landscapes the addition of trees has the effect of lowering the ambient temperature due to their shading effect. Shade from trees reduces the need for air conditioning in hot locations. Likewise trees can also assist in cold climates; in winter, trees dissipate the strength of winter winds and can lower the winter heating bill. Studies have shown that parts of cities without cooling shade from trees can literally be “heat islands” with temperatures as much as 10 degrees Celsius higher than surrounding areas.
Trees clean the soil
Trees can assist in the remediation of land that has been polluted by dangerous chemical pollutants. Trees can either store harmful pollutants or actually change the pollutant into less harmful forms. Trees can also be used to filter sewage and farm chemicals such as pesticides.
Social and communal benefits
Trees provide ascetic benefits. An environment replete with trees and vegetation leads to a more serene, peaceful and restful frame of mind. Hospital patients have been shown to recover from surgery more quickly when their hospital room offered a view of trees. Communities are often strongly opposed to the removal of trees for infrastructure upgrades (road widening for example) and it is not uncommon for great efforts by individuals and organisations to go towards saving large or historic trees within a community.
The restoration or establishment of forests often benefit local communities in many developing countries. For many communities forests have traditionally been a source of valuable non-timber forest products (NTFP). Furthermore by incorporating local communities into forest restoration projects you can provide employment opportunities in the management of this valuable resource.