April 30th is Arbor Day! So what does that mean?
Remember in your basic science class back in elementary school, you learned that people breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, and trees take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen? Well, that is one of many reasons why trees are so important to society. They are cleaning the air of the carbon dioxide (CO2) and giving us back good, clean oxygen. And not only are the cleaning the CO2 that people are exhaling, they are also cleaning the CO2 that is in the air from our daily polluting activities. They also provide shade and habitats for various ecosystems.
Here are some statistics:
Deciduous (leafy) trees planted on the south and west sides of your home will keep your house cool in the summer, and when the leaves drop in autumn, they let the sun through to warm your home in the winter, reducing energy use. (U.S. Department of Energy)
Just three trees, properly placed around a house, can save up to 30% of energy use. (U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research)
Trees or shrubs planted to shade air conditioners help cool a building more efficiently, using less electricity. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun. (U.S. Department of Energy)
Neighborhoods with well-shaded streets can be up to 6–10° F cooler than neighborhoods without street trees, reducing the heat-island effect and reducing energy needs. (U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research)
On a hot, sunny summer day, the sun can heat dry, exposed urban surfaces, such as roofs and pavement, to temperatures 50–90°F (27–50°C) hotter than the air, while shaded or moist surfaces (i.e. tree areas) often in more rural surroundings remain close to air temperatures. (EPA)
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. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Deforestation contributes to erosion by exposing soils to wind and rain. When the ground surface is stripped of vegetation, the upper soils are vulnerable to both wind and water erosion. Soil is washed into rivers when it rains, and then out to sea. This destroys the ability for the land to regenerate because it has lost its topsoil. It also destroys marine environments. (Wild Again Reforestation Trust)
Forests have a natural ability to absorb water when it rains, and to release that water slowly into rivers. Following deforestation in a rainfall catchment area, the water moves more quickly from the land to the rivers, causing erosion and stripping the topsoil. Because the rivers fill more quickly they are much more prone to flashfloods. Floods that break the banks of the rivers then exacerbate the problem by changing the path of the river and causing additional severe erosion where the water now flows. (Wild Again Reforestation Trust)
So, keep these things in mind whenever you use paper or wood items. Trees are important, and we need to conserve them. Always buy/use recycled paper products, and always recycle paper products when you are done with them. When you need some new wood furniture, try to refurbish something instead to save a few trees. And, every so often...plant a tree.
Click on the title of this blog entry to link to the Arbor Day Foundation website where you can learn about the best trees to plant in your area and how you can help have trees planted all over the world without ever leaving home.
Happy Arbor Day!