Forests are some of my most favorite places to be. Forests are alive and have their own sounds and scents and beauty, and trees can live a long time. Trees create pheromones that can be very relaxing… And if you've ever spent a day wandering around in the woods you know exactly what I mean. Some trees grow together well while others prefer to have their own part of the forest to live in and populate, but many forests in the United States and all over the world are threatened by disease, insects, and deforestation. America’s forests are now facing several threats. Infestations of diseases and invasive pests like the Emerald Ash Borer are killing tens of thousands of acres of trees nationally. Increased development is splitting once-vast forests into small fragments, and a history of suppressing natural fires has created unhealthy stands of forests. I would like to help protect the forests that I have walked and biked in from harmand one way we can do that is to plant trees.
Earth Day is coming up on April 22…and it is now a global event celebrated each year. More than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, and clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use Earth Day to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders, including Pope Francis, connect Earth Day with protecting some of God’s greatest creations and the planet that we all live on. On Earth Day I will plant a tree, or perhaps several. I planted a yard full of trees where I lived before and stayed there for 35 years...long enough to see the trees I planted grow from seedlings to huge full-size trees. I live in a new state now and I will plant another yard full of trees if given a chance.
Trees are like the lungs of the planet. They breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Trees trap CO2 from the atmosphere and make carbohydrates that are used for plant growth. They give us oxygen in return. According to ColoradoTree.org, about 800 million tons of carbon are stored in the trees that make up the urban forests of the U.S. Mature trees can absorb roughly 48 pounds of CO2 a year. The tree, in turn, releases enough oxygen to sustain two human beings. Additionally, they provide a place for birds and other wildlife.
Planting a tree is a great way to celebrate Earth Day. When people plant trees they are doing more than just beautifying an area. Trees are beneficial to the environment in numerous ways. They help produce oxygen and filter out pollutants to clean the air. In addition, trees also help preserve water levels in the soil. Planting a tree in one’s own yard is the obvious solution when it comes to where to plant. Fruit and shade trees are a good choice when deciding the type of trees to plant. Fruit trees have the bonus of eventually bearing fruit, and as a result providing food for the family, neighbors, and friends. When planted in the right location, shade trees can help keep a home cool and reduce energy costs. Trees also help to reduce ozone levels in urban areas. In New York City, a 10 percent increase in urban canopy translated to a reduction of peak ozone levels by around 4 parts per billion. Trees also reduce urban runoff and erosion by storing water and breaking the force of rain as it falls. The USDA has reported that 100 mature trees can reduce runoff caused by rainfall by up to 100,000 gallons!
Trees can also absorb sound and reduce noise pollution. This is especially important for people who live near freeways. In some cases, a well-planted group of trees can reduce noise pollution by up to 10 decibels. Lastly, trees shade asphalt and help cool our cities and can help reduce what is known as the “Heat Island” effect. For people who do not have a yard that can support a tree, there are other ways to plant a tree in celebration of Earth Day. Many local areas have initiatives in place that call for volunteers to participate in tree planting.
There is an initiative inside the Earth Day organization called Trees for the Earth and they have already planted or secured commitments to plant over a billion and a half trees. They are an ambitious group and they want to obtain commitments from governments and pledges from the private sector, to form partnerships, and become involved in large-scale land restoration projects, motivate individuals to plant trees, secure financing for projects, and much more. This is where you can come in. Whether it’s through the partnership of your organization, your personal actions within your community, or your ability to contribute financially, we need your help. One great way to support this campaign is through donating to the Canopy Project. One dollar, one tree. Just click here. We live in a society that can sometimes worship busyiness, one that is addicted to noise, and always doing something. How about going somewhere quiet, going to a place that can make you feel small? I’m going for a walk in the forest to enjoy the beauty and peace of the woods...How about you?