Have you seen or read The Lorax? You know, the one with the little orange guy who speaks for the trees? We’re constantly cutting down trees – usually to make room for homes or roads, or so we can make paper. And while those things aren’t necessarily bad, we need trees. You might be surprised by all of the reasons we actually need them.
You already know about the air thing, right? We all learned that at school, I hope. Here is a refresher: trees take the carbon dioxide that we put out with things like our cars and factories, and the whole breathing thing, and turn that into oxygen that we can breathe again. Basically trees are air purifiers. We need air to breathe. The cleaner it is, the better it is for us. So trees are good for air. We know this already.
Lots of trees are food sources and support the livelihood of farmers – apples, oranges, bananas, plantains, cherries, lemons, avocados, cinnamon, coco, and a whole bunch of other crops grow on trees. We all like to eat something that grows on trees. So trees = food, so we need to keep trees alive and healthy. This is probably something else you already knew.
But… did you also know that trees also help with soil erosion and flooding? Seriously. The roots hold soil in place so that rains don’t wash it away. That prevents mudslides and the loss of land. Good things, right? Also, with you have green spaces instead of parking lots, roads, and driveways, water can be absorbed instead of pooling up everywhere and flooding everything. So, trees hold on to the land we want to live on and they help absorb rainfall. You with me so far? There is an added benefit to this – by absorbing water, they also help prevent water pollution. Have you ever seen a river after a huge rain? Anything and everything that people tossed around its banks wash into the water and can pollute it. When the trees absorb the water, nothing washes down into our water systems!
Also… when we have trees, we also have critters that live in and around the trees. This is also good. Birds live there and they help control the bug and rodent population. The bugs help decompose rotting material and help make the soul richer so that more things can grow. Bees make their homes in trees, and we need bees to pollinate our flowers and our trees so that we continue to have food. And who didn’t learn how to climb a tree or want to build a treehouse as a kid?
Also, believe it or not, trees improve neighborhoods and home values. A tree that can partially shade a house will lower your cooling bills in the summer (hello, better for the environment than running an a/c!). Neighborhoods with trees and green spaces statistically have less violence and can promote community spirit. Trees also uplift spirits, helping people improve their moods and focus better. When planted outside hospitals, patients with views of nature and trees recover faster than those who don’t. Interesting, isn’t it?
What more could we possibly want? Stop reading this and go plant a tree.