Thursday, December 5, 2013

Do We Really Need To Save Trees? Why?

Since the beginning, trees have furnished us with two of life's essentials, food and oxygen. As we evolved, they provided additional necessities such as shelter, medicine, and tools. Today, their value continues to increase and more benefits of trees are being discovered as their role expands. Trees reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate the effects of climate change; trees increase biodiversity essential to human existence; trees store and purify water for agriculture and drinking; trees provide us with food, medicines and other forest produce; and trees beautify our surroundings.
Ecological and Environmental Value
Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "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." Trees, shrubs and turf also filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. After trees intercept unhealthy particles, rain washes them to the ground.

Trees control climate by moderating the effects of the sun, rain and wind. Leaves absorb and filter the sun's radiant energy, keeping things cool in summer. Trees also preserve warmth by providing a screen from harsh wind. In addition to influencing wind speed and direction, they shield us from the downfall of rain, sleet and hail. Trees also lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide.

Both above and below ground, trees are essential to the eco-systems in which they reside. Far reaching roots hold soil in place and fight erosion. Trees absorb and store rainwater which reduce runoff and sediment deposit after storms. This helps the ground water supply recharge, prevents the transport of chemicals into streams and prevents flooding. Fallen leaves make excellent compost that enriches soil.

Trees reduce our carbon footprint
Trees reduce our “footprint” and can prevent catastrophic climate change. They absorb harmful carbon dioxide; give off oxygen vital for life; shade and cool the Earth’s surface; attract and increase rainfall; prevent erosion of carbon-rich humus and topsoil. In a healthy forest, most carbon is stored below the ground; often 90 per cent or more is stored in the rich humus and roots.

Trees increase biodiversity
Trees are essential in conserving biodiversity vital for human existence. For example, bees are pollinators vital to our food chain. One-third of the food we eat would not be available but for bees, but bees are declining worldwide and a major reason is the loss of biodiversity – just as you and I need a varied diet, so do bees and the loss of biodiversity is adversely affecting their immune systems.

Trees are essential for creating and sustaining biodiversity because they create a canopy which creates a shady, moist microclimate essential for life; create rich healthy, nitrogen-rich soil and humus full of micro organisms; store vast amounts of water, which they purify and release for agriculture and drinking; provide fruit, flowers, nectar, foliage and sap vital for insects, birds, bats and all wildlife; prevent erosion, reduction in the number of species and ultimately desertification; create an environment essential for other plants; and in coastal mangrove areas, the roots of the mangrove trees and shrubs provide a haven for many species of fishes and other marine life.
Trees store and purify water

Forests and woodlands store and purify water in many ways. Trees, through their roots, absorb fertilizers and other pollutants and store them in their leaves, limbs and root systems. This keeps pollutants from being released into waterways. Forest floors contain leaf litter that filters out phosphorous from sediment particles, also contain bacteria that convert harmful nitrates into nitrogen gas, which is harmlessly released back into the air in a process called de-nitrification. Hence, water filtering down through forested hillsides is purified for agricultural land and for drinking water.

Trees for food, medicine and other uses
Most fruit trees are now intensively farmed, but many unusual fruits can be harvested from forest trees. Trees are also used for seasoning food, flavouring drinks and medicinal purposes There is much research work to be done to explore the medicinal properties of trees and other plants so it is essential that we conserve our forests for the medicines for the future.
Trees conserve energy
Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. By reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.

Trees help prevent water pollution
Trees reduce runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. This prevents stormwater from carrying pollutants to the ocean. When mulched, trees act like a sponge that filters this water naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies.

Trees shield children from ultra-violet rays
Trees planted in playground or campuses of schools reduce UV-B exposure by about 50 percent, thus providing protection to children on school campuses and playgrounds - where children spend hours outdoors.

Trees mark the seasons
Is it winter, spring, summer or fall? Look at the trees.

So what do you feel? Should we save trees?

See you tomorrow.
Until then, take care, bye.

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