We commonly hear that trees are good for the environment and that deforestation, conversely, is bad for the planet. However, many people wonder how trees can help the environment. Here are just a few of the ways that trees are a ‘green’ part of our world.
1. Trees reduce CO2. We hear a lot about our carbon footprint, but many people don’t realize that the carbon in this equation is carbon dioxide, or CO2. The same way humans breath oxygen and exhale CO2, trees breath in CO2 and exhale oxygen. This carbon dioxide becomes sugars that can then be eaten, burnt for fuel, or simply enjoyed in its leafy form. According to coloradotree.org, an adult tree can change 48 pounds of carbon every year into enough oxygen to keep two people alive.
2. Trees reduce ozone levels. This effect is not just global, but local. In large cities, a reduction in ozone can mean milder temperatures and more breathable air.
3. Trees reduce erosion. This is because their roots physically keep soil from washing away, but also because tree roots absorb and store water. A tree canopy can reduce the force of rain hitting the ground from a deluge to a gentle sprinkle, further preventing erosion.
4. Trees can reduce heating and air conditioning costs. There is a reason trees tend to be clustered around homes. Homeowners want them there, not just for their shady beauty, but for their effect on temperature. It is well known that trees can absorb summer heat. They also provide shade that can cool a house and yard substantially. In cooler months, trees provide a windbreak and trap heat. A difference of just degrees can save a lot of energy over the course of a year.
5. Trees trap dust and debris. Dust, smog, and other particles in the air collect on the leaves and tend to stick there. This creates generally cleaner air for people and animals to breath, which can be important for quality of life in both cities and dusty agricultural areas.
6. Trees provide an ecosystem for animals, insects, and other life. Trees are an important part of many ecosystems. They are not just part of the carbon cycle, but also a home and a food source for many critters. In fact, many animals have a preferred type of tree that they call home, which means every tree is a potential life-saver to certain species.
As you can see, trees are an important part of keeping our environment healthy. However, this list is not comprehensive. Although these are the six most notable ways that trees help the environment, their contribution doesn’t stop there. Trees are truly a green part of our world, in more than just color.