The Importance of Trees

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As a species, we tend to underestimate the importance of the things that are around us most often until they're not here anymore. We are steadily realizing that the hard way when it comes to the world's trees. As our society grew, so did our need for lumber. Trees and even whole forests have been decimated for the comfort of our modern lifestyle. As fewer trees became available, we began to realize the role they play in providing us with food and oxygen.

Besides these fundamental needs, trees provide us with a relaxing, peaceful environment to unwind in. Sometimes even unique trees such as topiary trees can help us unwind. In a hard, urban environments, trees are used to break up the cement facade and give the residents there a source of nature to enjoy. They also assist in selecting sunlight away from the pavement and glassy corporate buildings so cities can avoid the heat island effect. Now as a community and as citizens of the world, it is our mission to encourage stronger tree management, forest management and planting so our children and all the people who follow them will have the opportunity to enjoy the wonder of the forest and its gifts the same way we have.

The Importance of Maintaining Healthy Forests

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What is a healthy forest exactly? A healthy forest is described as a community of plants and animals functioning in their natural environment. When we say we need to take care of the trees, we aren't just considering the health of the trees alone. We are thinking about every living creature and natural component that contributes to the overall vitality of the forest. In order to maintain a healthy forest, forest managers must consider the current patterns and the natural rate the forest changes based on historical recordings on the conditions. They must plan ahead to understand the nature of sustainability as well as learn to respond to the dynamics, complexities and unpredictable nature of the environment. Unfortunately, some of this unpredictability is due to human interference. The political, economic and social climate of the times can have just as much to do with the overall health of the forest as Mother Nature does.

What You Can Do to Help

The rapid loss of our forests may seem like too large a problem to tackle all on your own. Fortunately for all of us, there are plenty of things any one of us could do to help promote healthy forests. For one, we can all go and plant a tree. If planting one tree in your own yard doesn't feel like enough, partner up with the local schools, community centers and even nursing homes. Encourage everyone to create a day devoted to planting trees. It is a great activity to get the community involved and children engaged. After that, we must all make a daily practice of making our lives as waste-free as possible. That means we must all reduce, reuse and recycle. Reduce is meant to encourage the consumer to buy fewer products, especially those that create packaging out of non-recycled materials. Reducing includes the amount of fossil fuels we put out into the world by keeping our lights on and using the car. Fossil fuels contribute to acid rain which kills the remaining trees we have. You can reuse by finding use for materials you already have instead of buying new ones to replace them. If you just want to enjoy a change, organize a stuff swap in your community so someone's old things become your new things. Finally, in order to recycle we must separate paper and other recyclable products from the trash.

Besides planting more trees and reducing the destruction of the ones we have, you can also keep trees healthy by being aware of diseases and parasites trees might have. For instance California and Oregon trees have been ravaged by Sudden Oak Death. If you would like to assist in Sudden Oak Death management, join the California Oak Mortality Task Force. Gypsy moths are also deadly to the trees around them. It takes time for the Gypsy moth to build its population, but once it has, it can defoliate trees for the next fifteen years. Learning about how you can help your community manage Gypsy moth populations could save your trees.

The Easiest Trees to PlantPATT logo


Once you have organized your community of tree planting friends, head over to the gardening section and pick out a conifer, a redbud, an American elm, a river birch, a red and white oak, a red maple, a flowering dogwood, a yellow poplar (or tuliptree), a sycamore and an American holly. All of these trees are native to North America and make great yard trees. It is perfect for your home, school, community center or nursing home because they don't grow past a certain limit. They are all hearty but do need attention in the early years of life. Watching the tree grow and flourish is a fantastic opportunity to educate children throughout their years at school as well a chance to bond with your family.