Importance and Value of Trees
Since the beginning, trees have furnished us with two of life’s essentials, food and oxygen. As we evolved, they provided additional necessities such as shelter, medicine, and tools. Today, their value continues to increase and more benefits of trees are being discovered as their role expands to satisfy the needs created by our modern lifestyles.
Community & Social Value
Trees are an important part of every community. Our streets, parks, playgrounds and backyards are lined with trees that create a peaceful, aesthetically pleasing environment. Trees increase our quality of life by bringing natural elements and wildlife habitats into urban settings. We gather under the cool shade they provide during outdoor activities with family and friends. Many neighborhoods are also the home of very old trees that serve as historic landmarks and a great source of town pride.
Using trees in cities to deflect the sunlight reduces the heat island effect caused by pavement and commercial buildings.
Ecological & Environmental Value
Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” Trees, shrubs and turf also filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. After trees intercept unhealthy particles, rain washes them to the ground.
Trees control climate by moderating the effects of the sun, rain and wind. Leaves absorb and filter the sun’s radiant energy, keeping things cool in summer. Trees also preserve warmth by providing a screen from harsh wind. In addition to influencing wind speed and direction, they shield us from the downfall of rain, sleet and hail. Trees also lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide.
Both above and below ground, trees are essential to the eco-systems in which they reside. Far reaching roots hold soil in place and fight erosion. Trees absorb and store rainwater which reduce runoff and sediment deposit after storms. This helps the ground water supply recharge, prevents the transport of chemicals into streams and prevents flooding. Fallen leaves make excellent compost that enriches soil.
Many animals, including elephants, koalas and giraffes eat leaves for nourishment. Flowers are eaten by monkeys, and nectar is a favorite of birds, bats and many insects. Animals also eat much of the same fruit that we enjoy This process helps disperse seeds over great distances. Of course, hundreds of living creatures call trees their home. Leaf-covered branches keep many animals, such as birds and squirrels, out of the reach of predators.
Personal & Spiritual Value
The main reason we like trees is because they are both beautiful and majestic. No two are alike. Different species display a seemingly endless variety of shapes, forms, textures and vibrant colors. Even individual trees vary their appearance throughout the course of the year as the seasons change. The strength, long lifespan and regal stature of trees give them a monument-like quality. Most of us react to the presence of trees with a pleasant, relaxed, comfortable feeling. In fact, many people plant trees as living memorials of life-changing events.
Trees help record the history of your family as they grow and develop alongside you and your kids. We often make an emotional connection with trees we plant or become personally attached to the ones that we see every day. These strong bonds are evidenced by the hundreds of groups and organizations across the country that go to great lengths to protect and save particularly large or historic trees from the dangers of modern development. How many of your childhood memories include the trees in your backyard or old neighborhood? The sentimental value of a special tree is simply immeasurable.
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Practical & Commercial Value
Trees have supported and sustained life throughout our existence. They have a wide variety of practical and commercial uses. Wood was the very first fuel, and is still used for cooking and heating by about half of the world’s population. Trees provide timber for building construction, furniture manufacture, tools, sporting equipment, and thousands of household items. Wood pulp is used to make paper.
We are all aware of apples, oranges and the countless other fruits and nuts provided by trees, as well as the tasty syrup of North American sugar maples. But did you know the bark of some trees can be made into cork and is a source of chemicals and medicines? Quinine and aspirin are both made from bark extracts. The inner bark of some trees contains latex, the main ingredient of rubber. How many more uses can you name?
Property Value & Economic Value
Individual trees and shrubs have value and contribute to savings, but it is the collective influence of a well-maintained landscape that makes a real economic impact and has the greatest effect on property value. Direct economic benefits come from a savings in energy costs. Cooling costs are reduced in a tree-shaded home, and heating costs lowered when a tree serves as a windbreak. According to the USDA Forest Service, “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save 20-50 percent in energy used for heating.”
Property values of homes with well-maintained landscapes are up to 20% higher than others. Here are some eye-opening facts and statistics regarding the effect of healthy trees and shrubs:
- 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
- A mature tree can have an appraised value between $1000 and $10,000.– Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers
- 99% of real estate appraisers concurred that landscaping enhances the sales appeal of real estate.– Trendnomics, National Gardening Association
- 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
20 Reasons Why We Should Plant Trees
Where would we be without trees? They are a part of our natural global environment, are used to build the very buildings that we live in, and we even write with, eat food from, sit on, and read from products that are made from them.
Because trees are so important, there are many reasons why we should plant more of them.
#1 Trees hold soil in place
Tree roots grow deep into the soil, holding it firmly in place, and help to prevent soil erosion, especially when growing on hillsides and other steep terrain.
#2 Trees sequester carbon dioxide
As most of us learned in school, trees and other green plants take in carbon dioxide that humans and other organisms produce.
Without trees, the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere would be even higher than they are now.
#3 Trees produce oxygen
Through photosynthesis, trees produce oxygen that humans and many other organisms depend on to live.
#4 Some animals are dependent upon trees
Trees provide important habitat for wildlife and are fundamental to many ecosystems on Earth.
Some animals live their entire lives in trees, and some, such as the Northern Spotted Owl in Washington State in the United States, cannot survive without old growth forests.
#5 Trees make cities more livable
A vibrant urban forest is especially important for cities. A healthy urban forest is one of the more important factors in the establishment of livable cities, by bringing nature into an artificial and human-constructed city environment.
Children can learn about nature within the city environment just by being around trees and observing and interacting with them.
Even just a view of trees in cities can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve the overall well-being of an urban population. It has been found that having green spaces with trees in cities helps to reduce crime rates by approximately 50 percent .
#6 Trees increase property values
It is well-known that when a home has mature trees growing on the property, it will sell for 7 to 19 percent more than if there were no trees planted there .
#7 Trees help to save energy
Planted strategically, trees on a property near homes and other buildings can help to block wind and create shade. This helps to reduce the need for heating in the winter, and the need for cooling in the summer.
#8 Trees are important for physical and mental wellness
A view of trees and green spaces from hospital windows has been found to increase the healing of patients, decrease our stress, and children do much better in school when they have a view of trees and green space and can spend time playing in nature.
#9 Trees feed us
You can grow your own fruit or nuts in your backyard.
By planting fruit or nut trees in your yard, you can produce abundant food for yourself and your family, and perhaps even enough to share with friends, neighbors, other family members, and others in your community.
#10 Trees create a sense of place
Trees can give a place unique character and beauty that can can only be found in that specific place.
#11 Trees are an investment for our communities and for future generations
When we plant trees, we are giving a gift to the environment and to our communities.
Since many species of trees can live for hundreds of years or more, our “investment” tree planting may perhaps last far beyond our own lifetimes.
#12 Trees help to slow stormwater runoff
Trees can help to intercept water running off of impervious pavement toward rivers and streams, protect streambanks, help to reduce flash flooding, and can help to recharge underground aquifers.
Trees that live in wetlands and along rivers are well adapted to cycles of flooding and other periods of high water levels.
#13 Trees help to maintain local water cycles
Trees play a very important role in maintenance of local water cycles. Trees hold water, prevent flooding, recharge underground aquifers, and maintain water vapor in the atmosphere, increasing the opportunity for rainfall.
When forests are cut down, the water vapor in the atmosphere disappears in an area, decreasing precipitation and increasing the risk of drought and desertification . By planting trees, some of these negative effects may be reversed .
#14 Trees help to buffer storms
Along coastlines, Mangrove forest trees are adapted to harsh coastal storms and help to protect areas inland from storm surges and harsh winds. When these forests are removed from coastlines, this important protection disappears.
Trees in other habitats also help to reduce windy conditions during storms.
#15 Trees produce products for our use
Trees produce many important products that we use in our daily lives, including wood, medicine, and food.
For example, the Moringa tree is considered to be a superfood and super herb, with all parts of the tree being useful for food or medicine, and the seeds are even used in some developing countries for water purification.
Other useful products from trees include cinnamon made from the bark of the Cinnamon Tree, using Willow bark as a form of natural aspirin, cinnamon made from the bark of the cinnamon tree, and using the technique of coppicing trees to obtain woody materials without killing the trees.
#16 Trees are beautiful
Planting trees is a great way to add a touch of beautiful nature to your property and improve the aesthetics of a place.
#17 Trees clean the soil
Trees can store some pollutants and can transform others into less toxic forms.
Trees have been known to be useful for filtering sewage and chemicals from farms, filter water runoff into rivers and streams, cleanup heavy metal pollution and organic pollutants, and help to clean up animal waste in water and roadside spills .
#18 Trees help control noise
Trees help to absorb loud noises in the air, especially in an urban environment.
When planted strategically around a property, trees can even help to reduce loud urban noises from freeways and airports.
#19 Trees clean the air
Trees intercept air pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter .
#20 Trees help to attract customers to businesses
It has been found that when given a choice, customers prefer to patronize businesses that have trees in front of the building over those businesses that do not have them in front .