Trees are the backdrop of our lives.
Like the soundtrack to a movie, they set the tone for so much that we do — often without us realizing how important a role they play.
We climb them in our childhood. We walk and camp among them as teens, nestled in their quiet sanctity. As we grow older, they provide shade from the elements and shelter from storms.
For many creatures, they provide homes.
Even the Bible reminds people of the intimate connection we share: “For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”
Without asking for much in return except perhaps a little care and nurturing, trees provide so much. The changing colors of their leaves help us to mark and celebrate seasons. They clean our air, absorbing and filtering pollution while creating oxygen — an acre of mature trees can produce enough oxygen in a year for about 18 people. They beautify communities and bear fruit for people and wildlife.
What you might not know is that trees can also conserve energy — their shade can naturally cool towns and cities — and studies have shown they can reduce crime and violence because of their calming effect.
Why, then, have we started treating trees as disposable?
Take a look around, or pay attention during a ride and consider the damage we are doing to what should be a cherished possession.
Not all of the blame rests on people; trees are susceptible to insects, illness and fire. Yet most of the devastation has been at our own hands, much of the time in the name of “progress.”
The 2015 study “Mapping tree density at a global scale”in the journal Nature revealed there are roughly 3.04 trillion trees on earth. While that was more than previously thought, it is estimated that number reflects a 46 percent decline since man started cutting them down.
Although about 5 billion trees are planted each year, that hardly makes up for the 15 billion cut down each year.
Arbor Day, which some observed just the other day, reminds people to think about the role trees have in our lives and also promotes tree care and planting.
It’s an important message not just today, but every day.
As Whit Bronaugh reminds us in “North American Forests in the Age of Man,” “we have learned to value trees not just for their products as wood, paper and fuel, but for their aesthetic and ecosystem-service values as living and life-giving forests. Now, unlike most of our ancestors, we know that there are no more frontiers. There is only a future with the forests we have and the consequences of the decisions we make.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Imagine if trees gave off WiFi signals. We would be planting so many trees and we’d probably save the planet. Too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe.” (Unknown)