Trees, what are they good for? by Phil Hackett

Absolutely everything…
Trees are all around us. They silently stand by as we go about our lives. We know they are important to us. They produce oxygen and provide shade,  etc. but just how beneficial are they to our way of life? What would happen if we didn’t have trees?

If you travel to parts of Australia, and other countries where trees are scarce, you quickly discover how grim life can be without them. In recent times there have been lots of studies into the benefits of trees. From environmental, social, and economic perspectives.

Here are a few benefits to consider next time you walk past one.

Economic Benefit
Trees add value in so many ways to the community. Property and neighbourhood valuations increase. Customers are more likely to purchase from shops with trees close by. The cooling and shade effect they provide reduces energy costs to residents and businesses alike. They help protect bitumen roads, pavements and houses from the harsh Australian sun. They diminish the impact of stormwater runoff, saving the taxpayer on infrastructure maintenance costs. Patients have quicker recovery times in hospitals with trees around them. Communities with an abundance of trees have fewer crimes than those without. The reasoning being that green spaces have a calming effect and encourage people to spend more time with their neighbours outdoors, improving community connection and trust.

Social Benefit
Trees are like catalysts in the community. They naturally bring connection in the present, as meeting places, family picnics etc. and awareness of the past, with memorials and other cultural meanings. Being long-living organisms, they help us remember what has been and give us hope for the future.  Trees also contribute to beautifying green spaces and consequently communicate the image of a positive, healthy, nature appreciating community.

Environmental Benefit
Trees quite simply change the environment for good by moderating the climate, improving air quality, reducing stormwater runoff, and sheltering wildlife. The radiant energy from the sun is absorbed and/or deflected by leaves on trees. The larger the tree, the greater the cooling effect. Trees are basically solar-powered water pumps, as they release large amounts of water vapours into the atmosphere and cool their surroundings. The cooling and shade they provide are essential to reduce the heat-island effect in urban areas. The damaging impact of wind, hail and heavy rain can be lessened by trees, providing some protection for people, pets, and buildings. Importantly air quality is improved as tree’s leaves filter the air we breathe, by removing dust and other harmful particulates.

The tree’s leaves absorb the carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and store carbon as growth. Leaves also absorb other harmful air pollutants like ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxide and release oxygen.

By planting trees and shrubs, we can return developed areas to a more natural self-sufficient environment which benefits absolutely everything.

This is an excellent time of the year to plan and prepare to plant your trees.

The article ‘Trees, what are they good for’ was written by Arborist Phil Hackett from Eden Trees Arboricultural Services 0411 511 127

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