Trees: a renewable resource
Last updated 1/25/2007 at Noon
The year of 2007 has arrived, which always brings a season for renewable thinking. Besides all the traditional promises we make to ourselves and our families, we should also consider doing good for this little blue marble floating around in space we call Earth.
My personal commitment this year again – after my family and peace in the world – is to nature, the environment and its belongings. This past year has certainly been a year of definite awakenings, that this tiny globe which we inhabit is undergoing some major changes in our climate.
The news that comes to us daily has brought what science has been telling us for years and to realize, yes, there are changes in the wind. With all the news that shows us visuals/charts/data and information about the world’s changing climates, we should consider some new thinking about where we live, how we live and what we should be doing if at all possible to make a difference.
My lifelong commitment after I entered the world of horticulture was to bring beauty to wherever possible, educate my friends, family and neighbors about the “wonderful world” of plants through the “simple act of planting trees” for one and all and through my landscape craft and profession.
The act of planting trees has “tree-mendous” ramifications in all aspects of short-intermediate and long-range benefits. We must understand that trees and the plant kingdom are our breathing lungs of the planet.
You may not live in a forest, but you need trees in order to live.
People and animals depend on trees and plants for oxygen. As you breathe in, your body uses oxygen; as you breathe out, it gives off carbon dioxide. Trees do just the opposite. They take in carbon dioxide and then release oxygen (which also helps clean the air).
Trees also help cool the earth. They give off moisture into the air and that means more rain and all living things need water. Trees cool the air by shading, and through water evaporation they act as huge pumps to recycle water up from the soil back into the air.
Trees are also a very important renewable resource for all of us. They can be a great natural resource by planting them in our cities, communities, villages, hamlets, freeways/mountains and forests across the country. We need to re-tree the earth when necessary. We depend on forest products for things like the wood we burn for heat, the wood that makes our homes/furniture/cradles and the paper that this article comes to you on.
Today the people and companies that manage our nation’s forests recognize that trees are a valuable resource and that it is in the best interest of each of us to preserve, protect, pre-plan and plant for the future.
The idea of sustainable forestry means trying to keep things in balance – when trees are cut down to make paper and other products, new trees are planted or re-grown naturally for future needs. Forests help wildlife by providing them with food and homes for their own sustainability.
Within oak woodlands alone, there are more than 300 species of flora and fauna that inhabit that micro-system. That number can include: grasses, worms, plants, fungi, woodpeckers, borers, mycorrihzae, moths, vines, owl, skunks, coyotes, snakes and much, much more.
When this natural balance is upset or changed, various components of this micro-system will react and start to change with relationship to one another. The same is true for the big picture of Earth and its inhabitants. We should appreciate that trees in our community have wonderful benefits and here are a few:
1. Trees save energy and money – Just three trees strategically planted around your home can cut your air conditioning bill in half.
2. Trees save tax dollars – Trees in a city slow storm water runoff and reduce the impact of storm sewers. The shade from trees also helps cool municipal and commercial buildings, lowering electricity bills.
3. Trees cool our cities – Urban “heat islands” are directly benefited when trees can cool large massive parking lots, reduce the air temperature and absorb the pollutants from the cars parked there.
4. Trees clean our water and air – Trees take in the bad and put out the good in air quality.
5. Trees help community life – Community tree plantings can be significant in bringing people together for the good of one and all. Just look at how the Fallbrook downtown area has changed over the past 15 years through the tree planting program. Thank you, Save Our Forests of the Fallbrook Land Conservancy.
6. Trees protect the soil by holding soil in place with their fragile root systems, and by deflecting rain water with their umbrella-like canopies. The autumn dropping of their foliage back to the earth increases the fertility and health of deciduous trees.
7. Trees provide habitat for species of many kinds, including endangered species – Trees are being planted in far-off regions of the world to bring back habitats for some of the endangered animals like the Siberian tiger.
8. Trees can pay your “carbon debt” – Planting just 30 global re-leaf trees will help absorb the amount of carbon dioxide that is generated in the production of energy for the average American lifestyle each year.
9. Trees provide clean water and natural flood control – The forests of the world act as natural sponges when they protect watersheds by providing clean filtered water for our cities, bays and rivers.
10. Trees are a beautiful part of our lives – From striking individual trees that abound all around us daily to a grove of trees in a community park, trees affect our lives by just being there. Trees are not just a key to the natural eco-system; trees are an essential part of man’s community life.
So as you march through the coming year trying to maintain those New Year’s resolutions, think again what else you can do for your garden, your community, your schools, the nation and the Earth that help sustains us.
The movement is on and it’s all around you with various organizations that need your help now. Pick up that shovel and do your part; if not, a pen can also contribute by making donations to a local or global group for the betterment of all of us.
I recently went on a field trip out to the Santa Margarita reserve and visited their research station with a group of people who are trying to put a halt to the proposed Liberty Quarry adjacent to the 4,600-acre natural habitat. The community needs to hear more about this and get involved. If interested in this issue, go online to http://www.sos-hills.org and read more and help save the environment around us from this project.
It’s a good feeling to do your part for nature and mankind. Make this year your earth commitment year.
Roger Boddaert is a professional landscape designer/Certified Tree Arborist. He can be reached at (760) 728-4297.