10 Reasons Why We Need Trees
Trees play a fundamental role in keeping our planet healthy. Trees are the world’s largest plants and today there are fewer than half of the number of trees that there were in ancient times.
In 2019 alone, 29 million acres of trees were lost through deforestation and logging. This figure is equivalent to an area the same size as a football pitch being cleared every ten seconds.
This alarming fact has featured in the media a great deal recently, because deforestation is having a huge and very negative impact on pollution and global warming of our planet
Here are ten reasons why we need trees…
1. We need trees to absorb carbon
Trees work like an air filtration system and remove the carbon from the atmosphere and store it inside their trunks and branches. The larger and older the tree, the more carbon it absorbs and this is why logging is so detrimental.
Scientists have calculated that trees absorb 35% of global emissions and when this percentage drops, this causes an increase in health problems.
2. Trees filter the air
Large trees act like large canopies successfully trapping airborne dust and pollutants on their leaves. A single tree can collect up to 1.8 kilos every year.
3. We need trees to boost local wildlife
Trees of all shapes and sizes are vital habitats and food providers to a wide variety of mammals, birds, insects, fungi and lichen. Old trees with hollows in their trunks are essential hiding place for bats, tawny owls and woodpeckers. A single mature oak tree can be a home to 500 different species of wildlife.
4. Trees conserve rare and endangered species
An incredible 50% of all species of animals and plants in the world can be found in the rainforests.
More than one million of these species are now facing extinction. As more and more forest habitats are destroyed, we are losing many important species at an alarming rate. Many of these animals, birds and insects species play a vital role in maintaining our good health and scientists fear that as more species become extinct, the number of new diseases appearing in the world will increase dramatically.
5. We need trees to help keep the world cool
Trees provide vital coolness and shade in their shadow by blocking out the sunlight with their leafy branches and reflecting the heat with their leaves. Sitting in the shade of a tree makes a real difference as the temperature will be 10º- 20ºC lower than sitting in the direct sunlight.
Buildings surrounded by trees are kept cooler by their shade and are also protected from strong winds – which can reduce heating bills by as much as 25%.
Not only do trees provide shade, they also draw moisture up from the soil and this is then evaporated from their leaves. This process is called evapotranspiration. One large mature tree can transpire 150,000 litres into the atmosphere each year.
6. Trees protect against flooding
Mature trees with their extensive root systems prevent soil erosion and offer protection to people and their homes from flash floods and landslides. Tree roots help to stabilise the soil, holding riverbanks and hillsides in place.
Both the tree trunks and their root systems also help to slow down the flow of the water and this means that a greater volume of water is able to seep into the ground.
Trees also absorb large quantities of water. A large mature tree will absorb as much as 5,500 litres of water each year.
7. Trees mean clean water
Tree roots filter water as it travels to lakes, streams and rivers, removing a variety of pollutants including nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Forested areas where there are many trees provide supplies of safer drinking water for large communities and in many areas, trees and shrubs are purposefully planted close to streams, rivers and lakes.
8. Trees are good for the community
People are attracted by trees and like to live and work in a community with wooded areas. Trees attract groups of birdwatchers, walkers and tree conservationists and they are an important educational tool for schoolchildren as well as providing a great natural playground.
Most people living in the community are proud of their trees and feel happier and healthier living near them.
9. Trees have medicinal benefits
45% of the plant matter that is used in the pharmaceutical industry comes from plants that live in the rainforests and marine coral beds- which are also being destroyed.
In the UK for example, there are more than 20 different tree species that have medicinal properties including birch bark oil which is an effective antiseptic, alder bark which is anti-inflammatory and willow bark which contains similar properties to aspirin and is good for reducing fevers.
10. We need trees because they are good for mental and physical health
It has been proven that walking or jogging amongst trees is not only good for physical health, it can successfully lower stress levels and blood pressure and boost the immune system. This is particularly important in urban areas where city parks play a vital role in maintaining physical and mental health.
In Japan, being surrounded by nature is called Shinrin-yoku – which translated means ‘forest bathing.’
With global temperatures rising more than ever before in history, incrensed flooding and the polar ice caps melting at an alarming rate, now is the crucial time for action.
The future of our beautiful planet hangs in the balance. There are a number of substantial tree planting programmes that are currently being undertaken around the world, and here at GFCC we actively support the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust which is actively following an ambitious plan of planting trees in Yorkshire.