I missed Arbor Day, oh my! But do not let my oversight skip a wonderful event of taking a moment to plant a tree. Typically, National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, though many states observe if on different dates according to their best tree-planting times (I am really late for California, which was March 7-14, oops).
If you do not have a place to plant a tree, do not fret, there are organizations that will do it for you if you would like to make a donation. In Los Angeles, MillionTreesLA.org is a great way to get involved and contribute.
Below is a list from MillionTreesLA highlighting the benefits trees provide, some of these are REALLY interesting, particularly the social impact (who knew?!):
- Trees reduce the greenhouse effect by shading our homes and office buildings. This reduces air conditioning needs up to 30%, thereby reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned to produce electricity. This combination of CO2 removal from the atmosphere, carbon storage in one tree that shades your home in the city will also save fossil fuel, cutting CO2 buildup as much as 15 forest trees. – (Note, one urban tree does the environmental work of 15 forest trees).
- A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs./year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings.
- Planting trees remains one of the cheapest, most effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere.
- An acre of trees absorbs enough CO2 over one year to equal the amount produced by driving a car 26,000 miles.
- Planting trees and expanding parklands improves the air quality of Los Angeles County. A total of 300 trees can counter balance the amount of pollution one person produces in a lifetime.
- Homeowners that properly place trees in their landscape can realize savings up to 58% on daytime air conditioning and as high as 65% for mobile homes. If applied nationwide to buildings not now benefiting from trees, the shade could reduce our nation’s consumption of oil by 500,000 barrels of oil/day.
- Trees have great benefits, such as raising the ground water tables in LA, and are useful helping to capture, filter, and restore rainwater to the groundwater table.
- A tree reduce topsoil erosion, prevent harmful land pollutants contained in the soil from getting into our waterways, slows down water runoff, and ensures that our ground water supplies are continually being replenished. For every 5% of tree cover added to a community, storm water runoff is reduced by approximately 2%.
- Research by the USFS shows that in a 1 inch rainstorm over 12 hours, the interception of rain by the canopy of the urban forest in Salt Lake City reduces surface runoff by about 11.3 million gallons or 17%. These values would increase as the canopy increases as well.
- Along with breaking the fall of rainwater, tree roots remove nutrients harmful to water ecology and quality.
- Trees act as natural pollution filters. Their canopies, trunks, roots, and associated soil and other natural elements of the landscape filter polluted particulate matter out of the flow toward the storm sewers. Reducing the flow of storm water reduces the amount of pollution that is washed into a drainage area. Trees use nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium- byproducts of urban living-which can pollute streams.
- More than 8% of children in Los Angeles – 217,000 – suffer from asthma. Studies have shown that an increase in tree-lined streets could lower that number by almost 25%.
- Research presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference (AAAS) in Chicago showed that the presence of trees could cut crime by as much as 7%
- Two University of Illinois researchers (Kuo and Sullivan) studied how well residents of the Chicago Robert Taylor Housing Project (the largest public housing development in the world) were doing in their daily lives based upon the amount of contact they had with trees, and came to some the following conclusions:
- -Trees have the potential to reduce social service budgets, decrease police calls for domestic violence, strengthen urban communities, and decrease the incidence of child abuse according to the study. Chicago officials heard that message last year. The city government spent $10 million to plant 20,000 trees, a decision influenced by Kuo’s and Sullivan’s research, according to the Chicago Tribune.
- – Researchers found fewer reports of physical violence in homes that had trees outside the buildings. Of the residents interviewed, 14% of residents living in barren conditions have threatened to use a knife or gun against their children versus 3% for the residents living in green conditions.
- A U.S. Department of Energy study reports that trees reduce noise pollution by acting as a buffer and absorbing 50% of urban noise.
- Approximately 2,882,784 vehicle trips are taken on L.A.’s 650 miles of freeways each weekday. Studies show drivers exposed to roadside nature scenes had a greater ability to cope with driving stresses.