Trees and forests greatly contribute to clean air and water, ecosystem health, economic health, and community/personal health. Pretty impressive, right?
Trees provide shade – lowers your cooling bill – and block the wind – lowers your heating bill.
Trees are also able to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas (GHG) that is emitted naturally and through human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels. The capturing and storing process is called carbon sequestration. Increases in greenhouse gasses reduce the amount of the sun’s rays that are able to pass through the atmosphere and out into space. As a result, more of the sun’s rays are re-emitted back into the atmosphere to warm the Earth’s surface.
If you’ve ever ducked for cover underneath a tree during a rainstorm then you can appreciate the canopy that is created by the tree’s leaves. When it rains, raindrops fall on the leaves and branches where they remain for a while until they evaporate or fall to the ground. This process slows the rain down and reduces the amount of stormwater runoff. ”Studies have shown that a mature deciduous tree (deciduous trees, such as sweetgums, lose leaves during the winter) can intercept 500–700 gallons of water per year.”
Trees also stabilize soil and increase the ability for rainwater to be absorbed into the ground, which also reduces stormwater runoff and filters the water before it reaches ground water or surface water.
“[Forestry] industry companies produce about $175 billion in products annually and employ nearly 900,000 men and women, exceeding employment levels in the automotive, chemicals and plastics industries.”
“The presence of urban trees and forests can make the urban environment a more aesthetic, pleasant, and emotionally satisfying place in which to live, work, and spend leisure time.”
Forests provide home and shelter for wildlife.
Ready to plant a tree at your house? Before you buy a tree, do some digging around to find the best match for your climate. This guide, starting on page 54, lists all the trees that are native to Hampton Roads. Match the conditions they need to your yard to ensure success!
For more information about the role of trees and forests check out celebrateforests.com, the UN’s website for celebrating forests and celebrating life.