I love trees. Since I was very little, I've loved looking at trees, drawing and writing poems about trees, climbing trees, planting trees, and enjoying how beautiful they are. During the hot summer months, I used lay at the end of my bed, staring out the window at the silhouette of trees. They truly are a gift of nature, a gift of our planet.
So what is National Arbor Day all about? According to the National Arbor Foundation, "Arbor Day is a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care." It was founded by J. Sterling Morton in 1872, and each state, as well as other countries around the world, celebrate in some way.
Arbor Day Foundation's mission statement is, "we inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees". According to the World Resource Institute, there are approximately 100,000 reasons to celebrate, or 100,000 known species of trees that exist throughout the world. If you need a reason or two to celebrate trees besides them being aesthetically pleasing, here are my top 10 reasons to plant a tree:
1. Trees remove CO2 from the air, reducing the impacts of greenhouse gases and climate change.
2. trees produce oxygen that is necessary for life on Earth, and are good for your overall health.
“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
“In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.” —Dr. Roger S. Ulrich Texas A&M University
3. Trees can add value to your home.
“Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent.” —Management Information Services/ICMA
4. Trees help cool your home and neighborhood.
5. Trees break the wind, and reduce both heating and cooling costs.
“The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.” —U.S. Department of Agriculture
“Landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50 percent, by shading the windows and walls of a home.” —American Public Power Association
“If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills should be 3% less. In 15 years the savings will be nearly 12%.” —Dr. E. Greg McPherson, Center for Urban Forest Research
6. Trees improve water quality. Trees help to filter water, improving water quality and groundwater recharge.
7. Trees reduce runoff, which also increases groundwater absorption, and allows for groundwater recharge, which in turn is a source of drinking water for many Americans.
8. Trees prevent erosion. The roots of trees help to prevent soil erosion which can lead to the siltation of streams and wetlands, and loss of property.
“The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the ground water supply. Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams.” —USDA Forest Service
9. Trees provide food and shelter for wildlife and birds.
10. Trees help to maintain biodiversity by providing shelter, food, and habitats for wildlife and birds.
You can become a member of the National Arbor Foundation for as little as $10, and they will send you 10 free 6-12" trees that will grow into beautiful mature trees as a thank you (you even get to choose from a list of trees). I'm looking out the window now at my beautiful flowering tree that looks like it's decked out for the spring prom. I received this tree as a gift from National Arbor Foundation many years ago, and it's grown into a stunning beauty that I'm still enjoying today, and hopefully will be for years. http://www.arborday.org/members/index.cfm
There is tons of great information on the Arbor Day Foundation website where you can learn about tree care and planting, tree identification, free landscaping ideas, join the tree forum, and much, much more. It's worth checking out at http://www.arborday.org/ There is also an amazing glossary of tree terms http://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/glossary.cfm
I hope you'll decide to celebrate National Arbor Day in some way too, whether it is today, tomorrow or in the future because without trees our planet just wouldn't be the same :) Happy Arbor Day!