By Larraine Roulston:
Since time began, trees have furnished all life on earth with food and oxygen. What’s more, they have provided humans with shelter, shade, medicines, tools, firewood, household furnishings, sturdy branches for swings, sculptures, as well as pulp for paper. Trees also add real estate value. Besides their majestic beauty, the U.S. Department of Agricultural (USDA) Forest Service notes that “trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save 20-50 percent in energy used for heating.” And their falling leaves blanket the soil to nourish the ground when they decompose.
Research shows that trees store carbon as well as improve water and air quality. They even reduce stress. Therefore, neighborhoods need trees not only lining streets but also planted in parks for a peaceful environment.
In a downtown area, trees are essential in order to reduce the heat emanating from concrete buildings and pavements. Trees remove city dust, and absorb car exhaust and other particulate matter. They help control the climate by moderating the effects of the wind, sun and rain. Below the soil, their root system can help contain erosion. Trees are indeed connected to human health and are a key component in the ecosystem.
In forests and jungles, thousands of animals, birds and insects call the trees their home. The USDA states, “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.”
The value of trees also can be personal and spiritual. Their presence offers memories and relaxation. When Princess Diana passed away, flowers were laid in tribute at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre. Those that became wilted were gathered for composting by the Compost Council of Canada. With the finished compost, a tree was planted in her memory. Also, many area schools received a box of flower compost to do the same.
To help reduce greenhouse gases by 50%, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti tasked arborist Rachel Malarich to oversee the ambitious planting of 90,000 trees by the end of 2021. Garcetti stated, “With flames on our hillsides and floods in our streets, cities cannot wait another moment to confront the climate crisis with everything we’ve got.”
In order to save trees, we need to support products displaying the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo, recycle the paper we acquire, purchase recycled paper, reject products that contain palm oil and stop destroying forests for agriculture — trees are too valuable to do otherwise. Aside from providing cork, medicines, latex and delicious maple syrup, trees provide food — how many fruits and nuts produced by trees can you name?
Published in 1914, Joyce Kilmer’s beautiful tribute is still known world-wide:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Larraine write children’s illustrated adventure books on composting and pollinating. To view, visit www.castlecompost.com