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They root us to the earth but inspire us to look skyward. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” (a folk proverb)
Trees are magnificent gifts of creation that enrich our lives beyond measure. Their splendid canopy dampens the summer heat while warming and sheltering us from winter winds.
Trees are the lungs of the earth because they supply oxygen for life while absorbing the carbon dioxide that threatens climate stability.
Trees constitute a vital link to the past and establish a sense of connection across human generations. The oldest trees are the Sequoia redwoods in California. Growing up to 20 meters (66 feet) in height, a good number of these ancient giants are more than 3,000 years old, dating from the time of the Mayas and pharaohs.
The environmental benefits of trees are substantial:
• Their leaves filter out toxic pollutants in the atmosphere and their roots help retain groundwater.
• They help reduce flooding.
• They improve water quality by slowing runoff and by trapping, using, or removing pollutants.
• They reduce soil erosion.
• They produce dead leaves that enrich the soil and provide a place where microorganisms can proliferate.
• They send oxygen back into the atmosphere.
• They improve air quality by filtering dust and absorbing ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and particulate heavy metals.
• Trees efficiently help to moderate temperature extremes and reduce heating and air conditioning costs. But the economic benefits of trees don’t stop there. According to one study, each $1 spent on trees generates a $3 return for the community.
• Three trees strategically planted around a house can reduce heating costs by 10% to 30% and air conditioning costs by 10% to 50%.
• Supplementing tree cover by 5% in a community diminishes rainwater runoff by 2% and reduces the need for costly infrastructure projects.
• Three trees can cool down entire neighborhoods by relea-sing moisture into the air and by shading asphalt surfaces like parking lots, sidewalks, and streets.
• Large trees can increase property values by 10% or more.
• Trees encourage outdoors activities.
• They furnish shade and refuge while reducing the stress of urban environments.
• They soften the urban landscape and create private places.
• They moderate the effects of the sun, wind, and rain.
• They offer protection from the sun’s UV rays.
• They help to absorb high frequency sounds.
• They foster a sense of belonging to a place.
• They inspire creativity and spirituality.
• They provide meeting places.
• They help to heal. Hospital patients recover more rapidly from surgery and require less medication when they can see trees from their hospital room.
Source: QMI Agency