Conservation Corner – April 2015

Pauline Lee

The 45th anniversary of Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22. It will be celebrated globally by more than a billion people in more than 192 countries with the goal of planting one billion seeds/trees in support for environment protection. It will be a part of the biggest grassroots effort in history, coordinated by Earth Day Network.

How do trees benefit our environment?

Trees are essential for regulating the distribution of rain and snow over the earth, thus controlling the climate. Trees cool the air, land and water with shade and moisture thus reducing the heat-island effect of our urban communities. The temperature in urban areas is often nine degrees warmer than in areas with heavy tree cover. The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide from the air and produce oxygen during photosynthesis as they grow. Consequently they reduce the carbon dioxide that is produced by our burning of oil, coal, gas and wood and replace it with oxygen that most living things require to sustain life. The American Forestry Association estimates that 100 million new trees would absorb 18 million tons of carbon dioxide and cut US air conditioning costs by $4 billion annually.

Trees can also absorb odors and filter dust, pollen and smoke out of the air by trapping them. The dust level in the air can be as much as 75 percent lower on the sheltered side of the tree compared to the windward side. Trees can also absorb and block noises and glares. A well placed tree can reduce noise by as much as 40 percent.

Trees protect soil by holding soil with their roots, thus reducing damages from flooding. Trees help reduce surface water runoff from storms, thus decreasing soil erosion and the accumulation of sediments in streams. They increase ground water recharge and reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals transported to our streams. A study in Salt Lake City revealed the tree canopy reduced surface runoff by 11.3 million gallons following a 1 inch rain.

Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals. The shade produced by trees creates a microclimate that allows other plants and living things to grow. As a result nature can afford to provide for a diverse living system.

Please join the 45th anniversary of Earth Day and plant a seed/tree. If you don’t have a yard, you can donate a tree in a public place. By planting and caring for trees, you help improve your surroundings, reduce pollution, lower energy costs, improve the appearance of your community and increase the value of your property by five to 15 percent. By planting a tree, you give a little back to Earth for all that man takes from the planet.