From the delicate willow to the mighty oak, the upright pine to the leggy mangrove, trees are increasingly overlooked. In a world that is spending too much time looking down, not enough of us are looking up. There are so many reasons why trees are awesome, and why we should be looking to protect them.
Don’t believe us? Well in no particular order, here are just 10 reasons that explain why we think trees are awesome.
1. Trees Regulate The Water Cycle
The water cycle is the process by which water falls to the ground as rain. It’s then absorbed by trees and other plants, then released back into the air as transpiration. Constantly ‘drinking’ whenever it can, a single tree will typically release around 250-400 gallons of water back into the air every single day.
Therefore trees are crucial for maintaining optimum levels of humidity in our air. They also ensure that the water cycle (which provides the fresh water we rely on to stay alive) remains in balance.
The world has established a natural rhythm when it comes to the water cycle. Deforestation severely disrupts this cycle and can put our supplies of fresh water (which makes up just 3% of the planet’s total water) in jeopardy. But there are still 9 more reasons why trees are awesome.
2. Trees Provide Jobs
All the way from rainforest care to tree planting. From fruit harvests to biological and botanical research. Trees provide a multitude of jobs. Chris spoke about those jobs when he spoke to Business Traveller.
Working on the land is a career as old as time. But, as with many other physically taxing jobs, it tends to be work which is reserved for those in lower socio-economic areas. For many small, often rural communities, without trees there would be no way to sustain the local people.
While it could be argued that deforestation also creates jobs, this work is not sustainable in the long term. Once the trees are gone, the work is too. Forest conservation and reforestation make up the majority of arboreal jobs in the world. We need to protect these roles for people whose livelihoods depend on it. Or, better yet – create even more of these jobs.
3. Trees Are A Vital Habitat For Wildlife
Surely we don’t have to explain the reasons why trees are awesome for wildlife too?
A diverse range of birds, insects and mammals live in forest habitats. These creatures have adapted to their environment over centuries and are reliant on it.
While the larger or more exciting animals (elephants, tigers, gibbons, macaques, sunbirds or hornbills) may be the first that come to mind, a seemingly simple tree may well be home to hundreds or even thousands more creatures of a much smaller size. Snakes, frogs, millipedes, ants, termites, spiders, beetles, moths – all of them depend on the safety of their forest home.
It has been estimated that if deforestation continues at its current rate, it will result in the extinction of around 28,000 different species in the next 25 years. Many of them would disappear without ever having been discovered.
4. Trees Improve The Soil Quality
Trees improve the quality of the soil around them in numerous ways too. As part of their carbon filtering properties, they remove carbon and other noxious substances from the soil, allowing other plants to flourish.
Good quality soil should contain no more than 2% carbon. However, in heavily forested areas it can be as low as 0.05%. In fact, land that is surrounded by trees can double crop production thanks to the soil-purifying effect of trees. The better the yield, the less land is needed to feed humanity.
Trees also contribute vital minerals to the soil by shedding its foliage and allowing it to decompose as mulch.
And lastly, trees improve soil quality by pulling nutrients from deep under the ground up to the surface via the powerful action of their roots. Again, this makes the soil much more nutritious for other plants (including crops).
In short: if we want good quality soil for agriculture and biodiversity, we need to look after our planet’s trees.
5. Trees Prevent Soil Erosion
Areas that have been deforested are much more vulnerable to desertification. Using their trunks and foliage, trees form a natural barrier to winds and floods. This barrier slows the forces of nature down and helps to prevent bad weather from becoming a natural disaster capable of devastating large areas.
Madagascar is one country where we focus on planting mangrove trees. These trees create a natural form of protection to the land.
Tree roots perform a vital function in holding the soil together, preventing it from erosion. In deforested areas, there is nothing to keep the soil in place or slow the speed of incoming winds or monsoons. A period of high winds or rain is then free to sweep away all of the loose soil, turning the area into a quasi-desert.
6. Trees As A Food Source
Sustainably grown, trees are a source of so many vital foodstuffs. It is well known that the world’s population would have more than enough to eat if everyone followed a vegan diet.
We can get plenty of nutrients from trees alone. From nuts to fruits, to the syrup created from flowers and resins and the spices created from aromatic barks (cinnamon being one example). Trees are an amazing source of food for humans.
And hey – the firewood they provide enables us to prepare food we could otherwise not digest. One of the many reasons why trees are awesome is that they provide us with so many of life’s essentials.
7. Trees Combat Noise Pollution
As well as combatting air pollution, trees have a role in combatting the negative impact of noise pollution. A major effect of urbanisation, transport and industrialisation, noise is not just annoying for humans – it can have a devastating effect on wildlife.
Not only can the noise pollution caused by humans interfere with an animal’s sonar and navigation systems, it can disrupt whole ecosystems. For example, some breeds of nesting birds will not nest in habitats that are undesirable due to noise.
The foliage of trees has a muffling effect, diminishing the level of sound that reaches it. Wildlife is buffered from the noise pollution that we, as humans, create.
8. And Light Pollution, Too
As well as muffling sound, tree foliage also provides a barrier against unwanted light pollution.
Like noise pollution, as well as being annoying, city lights can disrupt the habits of animals such as birds and moths (as well as nocturnal mammals like badgers). They rely on the daily cycles of light and darkness to regulate their internal clock, navigate, and source food.
Newly planted trees have helped reduce the effect of pollution all over the world, including at our sites in Kenya.
9. Trees Fight Climate Change
One of the factors affecting global warming and climate change is the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a ‘greenhouse’ gas, known for its heat-trapping properties. In a rapidly warming planet, the excessive levels of carbon dioxide that humans are producing is literally trapping the heat in our atmosphere.
As a tree grows, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the air through a process called photosynthesis. It stores the carbon as wood and releases oxygen molecules. For this reason, forests act like a giant filter. They remove the greenhouse gas from the air and only disperse it back into the air if they are burned, or decomposed back into the earth.
This is why the effects of deforestation are two-fold. Not only are nature’s CO2 filters being removed, but they’re often burned afterwards, releasing any carbon they were storing back into the atmosphere.
Once a tree is fully grown, it removes less carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it is no longer creating as much new wood: the additional carbon isn’t necessary. With responsible woodland management, older trees can be carefully harvested in order to absorb the maximum amount of carbon from the air – creating a ‘carbon sink’.
Trees are absolutely vital in the fight against climate change. Without the world’s forests, we wouldn’t stand a chance.
10. Trees Create Oxygen
There is truth in the saying that the Amazon rainforest is the green lung of our planet. We’ve already covered the way that trees remove CO2 from the air. It’s an additional bonus that they also produce oxygen as a bi-product. So not only do trees remove unhealthy air, they actually replace it with clean air.
Considering about two-thirds of the human body is made up of oxygen, that’s pretty good news for us! Without oxygen, it would be game over for the human species. And, since photosynthesis is the largest creator of oxygen, we should probably make sure we’re taking good care of our trees!
Why not take part in our #plantatreechallenge and see how you can help clean up the air where you live?
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Save Our Trees!
Would you agree that there are many reasons why trees are awesome?
Then let’s save our trees! They have a vital role in the future of our planet, which is why it’s so crucial that we protect them.
We can do this by contributing to reforestation projects, combating deforestation, sourcing our food, paper, and wooden goods sustainably, and working to reduce our carbon emissions. Small changes can make a big difference.
And speaking of small changes, sign up for our GROW newsletter today. It takes such a tiny amount of your time and we’ll plant a free tree just to say thanks.
First small change: Save B’n’Tree as your default website for all things travel. Whether it is a business trip or your annual vacation: For every booking which begins on bedandtree.com, we plant one tree – for free!
Second step: Tell your friends and family about it. Small changes can make a big difference. Many small changes by many different people make an even bigger difference. Tell everybody some of the reasons why trees are awesome, and get involved in our Facebook conversation about how incredible trees really are.
Thirdly – last but not least: Plant more trees! Despite their incredible awesomeness, planting trees cost less than a meal at McDonald’s – but they last indefinitely longer. In case you’re not traveling anywhere, you can plant trees anytime on Click A Tree.
As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for helping us to plant all the trees we’ve planted so far!