Remember the Dr. Suess classic “The Lorax?” Trees of all kinds — not the fictional Truffala variety — need your help. Here’s what you need to understand about the impact of planting trees for the planet and tips for adding more of nature’s wonders to your property.
By Jane Marsh
What Causes Loss of Trees?
Unfortunately, the earth is losing trees at a record pace. In 2016 alone, 29.7 million hectares of forest disappeared. Unlike the Roanoke colony, there’s no mystery here — two principal causes contribute to tree loss.
1. Climate Change
Climate change results from rising global temperatures. It stems in large part from the greenhouse gases, microplastics and toxins humans release into the environment.
This warming trend causes an increase in forest fires, such as those seen now in many parts of the U.S. Southwest. Unfortunately, a vicious cycle forms as smoke and pollutants from forest fires hinder the atmosphere’s ability to filter toxins. Additionally, the massive tree loss from these blazes further compromises the planet’s ability to rid itself of air pollution.
Human demand for more paper products and lumber contributes to deforestation. The 2018 passage of the Farm Bill paved the way for industrial hemp production, but efforts to switch to this alternative come slowly. Manufacturers need to modify equipment and procedures to make more sustainable products — for that, they require demand.
Switching requires a multi-tiered effort. Individual consumers can seek alternative materials made from hemp and bamboo and demand innovations like fire-resistant hempcrete when designing new buildings. Savvy manufacturers who see the sustainability needs can begin producing these items, and governments can do more to incentivize those that do, such as giving tax breaks.
The Benefits of Planting More Trees
You can help by planting more trees today. When selecting your species, look for those grown free of pesticides for the hardiness factor and to protect the environment. Doing so provides the following four benefits:
1. Clear the Air
Like all plants, trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They can also help filter other pollutants from the air. NASA discovered this way back in the 1980s while seeking ways to sustain life on Mars — and the bigger the plant, the higher the rate of fresh air exchange.
2. Cool Temperatures
Trees provide shade, which cools the atmosphere. Furthermore, as trees release water into the atmosphere through transpiration, it drops the surrounding air temperature.
3. Boost Immunity
If you want to decrease your chances of getting sick, perhaps you should hug a tree. Researchers investigated forest bathers — those who took overnight camping trips — and discovered higher activity levels in natural killer cells, which fight infection. The secret lies in chemicals trees emit that boost human immunity when inhaled.
4. Beautify Your Surroundings
Who can deny the stately grace of a mighty oak tree? Trees help beautify your surroundings and can even add value to your property.
Tips for Adding More Trees to Your Property
If you are an urban apartment dweller, seek out beautification projects where you can take part. Those who are more ambitious can contact their local governments about starting one.
If you are a homeowner, you can help save the planet by planting more trees on your property. Please heed the following tips to enhance your value and the beauty of your surroundings.
- Keep your distance: It’s wise to leave at least 15 to 20 feet between your home and any trees you plant. That way, you won’t risk them falling onto your home and destroying your walls or roof.
- Xeriscape: You don’t want to create another environmental problem by planting varieties that require too much water for your region. Work with your nursery to select species that grow wild in your area and require minimal upkeep in your climate zone.
- Protect your investment: Care for your trees by monitoring for signs of disease and calling for professional help if an insect or fungal infestation threatens your addition.
Planting Trees Is Vital for the Planet
Trees play a vital role in combating climate change. Do your part to plant more today and become a hero for the earth.