The world needs more trees
Recent evidence showed that trees benefit health where they act as a physical filter, absorbing odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and trapping dust from the air on their leaves and bark.
Each individual tree removes up to 1.7 kilos of pollutant every year. Trees also provide shade from solar radiation and reduce noise. Several trees are known to have medicinal properties. The oil from birch bark, for example, has antiseptic properties. Researchers reported that within minutes of being surrounded by green space and trees, your blood pressure drops, your heart rate slows, and your stress levels come down. Several studies showed that patients who live beside trees heal faster and with less complications. Children automatically calm down when they have access to trees and nature. Exposure to trees aids concentration by reducing mental fatigue.
Trees also benefit the environment and combat carbon emissions through absorbing carbon dioxide as they grow and storing it in their wood. Furthermore, they can reduce wind speeds and cool the air as they lose moisture and reflect heat upwards from their leaves. It is estimated that trees can reduce the temperature in a city by up to 7°C. Trees also help prevent soil erosion and flooding, absorbing thousands of liters of stormwater. Trees support wildlife where they host complex microhabitats. trees offer habitation and nourishment to a wide varieties’ communities of birds, insects, lichen, and fungi. Their trunks also provide the hollow cover needed by species such as bats, tawny owls, woodpeckers and wood boring beetles. One mature tree can be home to as many as 500 different species.
Trees strengthen communities and encourage local pride. Urban woodland can be utilized as an educational modality and to bring groups together for activities like bird watching and walking. Tree plantings provide an opportunity for community empowerment and involvement that improves the quality of life in our neighborhoods. All cultures, ages, and genders have a principal role to participate in a trees care event.Trees are also noble for children to play in and discover their sense of adventure. Trees also grow the economy where people are attracted to work, live, and invest in green surroundings. Research showed that average house prices are 10-18% higher when properties are close to trees. Companies benefit from a healthier workforce if there are trees and parks nearby.
Air pollution is a global crisis and the major topic for this year’s World Environment Day. High concentrations of harmful gases and particles in our atmosphere negatively affects the health of humans, animals and plants.
But there’s a natural remedy: forests. The world’s forests absorb a third of global emissions every year. Particles, odors and pollutant gases such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia and sulfur dioxide settle on the leaves of a tree. Trees absorb these toxic chemicals through their stomata, or ‘pores’, effectively filtering these chemicals from the air. Trees also mitigate the greenhouse gas effect by trapping heat, reduce ground-level ozone levels and release life-giving oxygen. Trees also reduce the effects of PM – particles made from a mixture of different chemicals and soot that clog up the air, causing heart and lung disease. If we continue with our current rate of deforestation, it will have severe consequences on the quality of our air.
Trees act as the earth’s purification system by absorbing airborne chemicals and releasing oxygen. To tackle global air pollution, we need to halt deforestation and plant billions of trees. Reforestation is the reestablishment of trees and understory plants at a site previously occupied by forest cover. More than 200 million hectares of deforested land provide little or no food production, and are eligible for cost-effective reforestation. That’s an area around three times the size of Texas. Reforesting these lands would sequester 3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year (GtCO2e/year). That’s comparable to the emissions from 642 million passenger vehicles per year. The quality of the air we breathe is also directly connected to the trees closest to us. It’s the balance between these global and local benefits of trees that makes them indispensable for the protection of our planet and our health.
Additionally, the restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for carbon emission mitigation. there is enough suitable land to increase the world’s forest cover by one-third without affecting existing cities or agriculture. However, the amount of suitable land area diminishes as global temperatures rise. The area available for forest restoration could be reduced by a fifth by 2050 because it would be too warm for some tropical forests.
Excluding existing trees and agricultural and urban areas, we found that there is room for an extra 0.9 billion hectares of canopy cover, which could store 205 gigatonnes of carbon in areas that would naturally support woodlands and forests. This highlights global tree restoration as one of the most effective carbon drawdown solutions to date. However, desertification will alter this potential tree coverage. A recent study showed that more than half the potential to restore trees can be found in just six countries: Russia (151 million hectares); USA (103 million); Canada (78 million); Australia (58 million); Brazil (50 million); and China (40 million). Those countries have so much potential because they’ve already removed much of their existing forests.
Planting a tree is a lifelong investment and we can start doing it tomorrow. Photosynthetic carbon capture by trees is likely to be among the most effective ways to limit the rise of CO2 concentrations across the globe. Planting billions of trees across the world is one of the biggest and cheapest ways of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. Reforestation can buy us time to cut our carbon emissions. Planting new trees remains vital to reverse the current trends of rising greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and forest destruction and bring them down to zero.