Trees have always been important for our ecosystem and especially, in a time when we have endangered nature at large with our selfish motives. We have always overlooked the favors those greens have done to us with its aesthetic, commercial, and other benefits. One of the recent evidence of our selfish motives of destroying trees is the Amazon Rainforest fires. Deforestation has gone beyond the limits and we need to act and act fast!
It is high time we understood the importance of trees and realize our responsibility as humans to protect and preserve our environment. In this blog, we have thrown some light on the various fields in which trees hold great significance. Yes, these are the same points that we once read in our environmental studies books back in school and college. But, we thought it is essential to take this throwback journey. Let’s do this together. Read on.
Importance of Trees
From the initial days of human evolution, the two main components for which we rely on trees are food and oxygen. And as mankind evolved over the centuries, trees have offered additional essentials, such as medicine, tools, shelter, etc. No matter how hard modernization takes a toll on our lives, trees remain to be equally important as they were years ago. It’s just our negligence that has drawn curtains to see the reality.
Let’s start with the social value of trees in this piece discussing the importance of trees.
Social and Community value
Trees have always been a significant part of every existing community in the world. Be it streets, playgrounds, parks and backyards, we have got trees lines everywhere to create a peaceful, aesthetically pleasing environment. This is because trees improve the quality of our life by rendering natural elements and wildlife habitats into an urban setting (we will discuss the urban setting benefits later in the blog).
When you are out, you can take shade under a tree on a hot sunny day. Out for a walk or a game of football with friends, you can take shelter under a tree when tired. Even after the increasing rates of deforestation, there are neighborhoods that are home to old trees that have become an amazing source of pride in the town and also serve as historical landmarks.
Not just these, trees in the cities also help to deflect the harsh sunlight and keeps the heat island effect controlled that is the result of commercial buildings and pavements.
Environmental and Ecological value
Trees are a great contribution to our environment, and there are awareness programs and NGOs promoting their environmental and ecological values. Our avarice to money and leading a modern life has already harmed a lot to the environment. Thanks to these awareness programs and environment activists who are taking steps to maintain the ecological balance in the society.
Trees are a crucial contribution to our environment as it offers oxygen, improved air quality, conserves water, preserves soil, climate amelioration and support wildlife. Remember, the process of photosynthesis we read in school? Trees absorb carbon dioxide in the air and release oxygen that helps us breathe. As per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This amount is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. ”
Trees, turf and shrubs also help in filtering the impure air by removing dust and absorbing the pollutants like sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Once trees intercept these unhealthy particles, they get washed away to the ground by rain.
As we are discussing the importance of trees in creating an ecological balance on Earth, we must not forget how it helps in controlling climate change by moderating the effects of wind, sun and rain. The tree leaves absorb and filter out the radiant energy of the sun, which helps in cooling things in summer. They preserve warmth by acting as a screen against the harsh winds. Apart from influencing the direction and speed of the wind, trees also shield us from the heavy downfall of rain, hail and sleet. It is because of the trees that we have controlled air temperature and reduced heat intensity of the greenhouse effect. They do it by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Talking about the ecological value of trees, they are essential to the ecosystem in which they survive. Living both below and above the ground, the extending roots of trees hold soil in place and helps fighting soil erosion. They absorb and store rainwater that reduces sediment deposit and runoff post storms. Not just this, it also helps in groundwater supply recharge, prevents flooding and controls the transport of chemicals. In fact, the fallen leaves from the trees also prove to be useful as an excellent compost for soil.
Several animals like koalas, elephants and giraffes eat tree leaves for nourishment. Monkeys eat flowers and birds, bats and other insects are fond of nectar. Like humans, animals also enjoy feeding on fruits. This, in turn, helps in dispersal of seeds to far off distances. There are hundreds of creatures on the planet that call trees their home. Animals like squirrels and birds seek protection in the leaf-covered branches to stay away from their predators.
Personal and Spiritual Value
One of the main reasons we like trees is because they are beautiful and you will find no two trees as identical. Like humans, they also vary from each other in appearances. There are different species of trees – a variety of forms, shapes, texture and even vibrant colors. A single tree goes through a change in appearance over the course of the year with the changing seasons. Now, that what we call the beauty of nature! The soothing beauty of trees brings to us a feeling of relaxation, peace, pleasure and comfort.
People even plant trees to record the history of their families. How? As the tree develops from being a tender sapling to a full-fledged giant tree, it reflects the growth of you and your kids over those years. When we plant trees around our house, it is likely to build an emotional connection with them and get personally attached to them as we see them every day.
Such strong bonds are the reason hundreds of organizations and groups move across the country to spread awareness about the importance of trees and ensure their protection against the threats of modern development. The sentimental and spiritual value of trees still remain rooted and is immeasurable.
Commercial and practical value
As we speak of the importance of trees, we should not forget to discuss their commercial value on our modern world. Trees have been supporting and sustaining life on this planet throughout our existence. They have got a wide variety of commercial and practical uses. If you remember the environmental teachings of your school, you know that wood was the first-ever fuel and is still being used for heating and cooking by over half of the world’s population. Trees provide timber for building construction, tools, manufacturing furniture, sporting equipment and thousands of household items. The pulp of wood is used for making paper.
We all know how fruits like apples, oranges and others along with nuts from trees are used to make a delicious syrup of the North American sugar maples. But, were you aware that the bark of a tree of some selected trees can be reformed into a cork and used as a source of medicine and chemicals?
A tree is one of the important sources of medicine, especially in the field of Ayurveda. Quinine and aspirin are two major medicinal components made from the bark extracts of trees. The inner bark of some trees consists of later, which is the main ingredient of rubber. There are several other uses of trees that you would have never imagined.
Economic and property value
The individual value of shrubs and trees also contributes to savings. However, their collective influence of building a well-maintained landscape is making for a real economic impact and also affects property value greatly. The direct economic benefit of trees is savings in energy costs. In a tree-shaded home, the cooling costs are reduced and heating costs is also reduced in houses where a tree serves as a windbreak.
As per the statement by the USDA Forest Service, “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save 20-50% in energy used for heating.”
You might not be aware yet but the property value of homes having well-maintained landscapes are almost 20% higher than others.
Check out these surprising facts and statistics in relation to the effect of healthy shrubs and trees:
- 99% of real estate appraisers concurred that landscaping enhances the sales appeal of real estate.– Trendnomics, National Gardening Association
- Homes with “excellent” landscaping can expect a sale price 6-7% higher than equivalent houses with “good” landscaping. Improving “average” to “good” landscaping can result in a 4-5% increase.– Clemson University
- Landscaping can bring a recovery value of 100-200% at selling time. (Kitchen remodeling brings 75-125%, bathroom remodeling 20-120%)– Money Magazine
- 98% of realtors believe that mature trees have a “strong or moderate impact” on the salability of homes listed for over $250,000 (83% believe the same for homes listed under $150,000).– American Forests, Arbor National Mortgage
- A mature tree can have an appraised value between $1000 and $10,000.– Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers
Value of trees in the urban setting
As we have already discussed some of the benefits of having trees in the urban areas, you now know that trees in the urban areas are basic for healthy living. To get into details, we have divided the advantages of having trees in a modernized setting into following points:
Improved air quality: As trees absorb the harmful carbon dioxide and other gases, giving us oxygen to breathe, they also purify the atmospheric air. They act as an effective filter by holding and trapping pollutants, dust and impurities present in the air.
Improved wildlife habitat: Like birds, squirrels and other wildlife find a place in the urban setting, it is the trees that build a scope of microhabitats for them to acquire sustenance, seek refuge and thrive.
Increase in property value: As discussed above, the aesthetic value of trees boosts the value of a property by creating a curb appeal. An area with a well-maintained natural landscape has greater value than one with just a well-built infrastructure.
Environmental Control and Regulation: Thankfully, there are mature trees in several cities that absorb carbon dioxide efficiently, moisten the air and reduce wind speeds. They can lower the temperature in a city by reflecting solar energy.
With the large-scale awareness about the importance of trees across the world, mostly in urban areas, both small and large cities have recognized the sheer need for developing a canopy cover of trees. They have adopted or developed tree ordinances to protect the population and health of their trees.
The most efficient way to improve the world we live in and make a difference is to plant trees and protect them against deforestation. If each one of us plants annually, we will have over 75 billion new trees within the next ten years.
Importance of trees for birds and animals
Animals, lichen, insects, fungi and bacteria depend on trees for food, refuge and habitation. In both urban areas and forests, you will see migratory birds. And, these birds mostly choose the same tree to nest every year. Some woodpeckers and owls even take up residence as the trees start aging and offer hollow spaces in their trucks, where these birds nest.
You will be surprised to know that just one mature tree can sustain several hundred species at once.
Health value of trees
We have already covered a lot of values that indicate how important trees are to the entire ecosystem and humankind. Now, we will understand how trees benefit health. It has been ages since trees have been treasured for their medicinal values by indigenous people. Species like birch, oak and pine were highly-priced for the healing properties of their bark, leaves, sap and roots.
Pine trees were used to improve blood circulation, vision, skin and hair health. They were also helpful in promoting respiratory health and boosting the immune system. Plants like neem, tulsi, and several others are very useful in treating health issues.
Trees to mankind
Amidst all these years of modernization that has increased industrialization in urban as well as rural areas now, we are forgetting or say avoiding the importance of trees in our personal life. I hope a large population of the world realizes soon that the fate of life on Earth is intertwined with the sustenance of our tree population. There would be no life on the planet without trees and the rate of deforestation, industrialization and other inclusions in the modern world shows this is going to be difficult in the coming years.
In a Nutshell
We hope through this article you got a proper idea of how valuable the trees around us are and how serious is the concern of its protection. Be it urban setting, forests, wildlife, or any other aspect, trees are significant for all.
It is again time for the historical Chipko Movement, maybe a modern version, but something to protect our trees and environment. It is high time we focus strictly on controlling climate change and global warming. We got to make sure the life of our trees longer and there is an increase in their population.