Save the Trees

“A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.”

~Greek Saying

The tall pines of the Pacific Northwest

I’ve always had a thing for trees; I am a tree-hugger from way back, before I knew there was such a thing. I admit I’ve always carried a torch for tall guys and trees. The statuesque pines of my native Pacific Northwest really do it for me.  I feel safe in the woods among the wild green of the forest. I have always been strangely drawn to them…perhaps it’s in my blood; a throwback to my very distant Native American ancestors, maybe it’s because I am fortunate enough to live a stonesthrow to a temperate rainforest or it could be that trees are just really that wonderfully special and useful structures that are a vital part of out global ecosystem.

I love to be in the forest right after a tender rainfall. The fresh scent of pine is so welcoming to me. The way the morning sun shines through the boughs of the trees and how the steam rises from the tree tops. I feel privileged to witness such an event.

Beyond their majestic beauty, trees provide we the inhabitants of this marvelous planet with so much, they give us their all and we as the human stewards of this land have not returned the favor.  Ever since our beginnings as small rodent-like creatures living in a reptile dominated world we clung to the trees for our very lives. Ever experience the phenomena of falling asleep and feeling the sensation of falling only to “catch” yourself? That is a leftover from our distant mammalian past.  Back to the days when our ancestors lived their entire lives in the tree canopy.  Our close relatives the apes still swing from branch to branch; adept as ever, holding on with one hand whilst using the other to reach for tasty fruit.

mount tabor tree view

Trees today provide sustenance and shelter to a wide variety of lifeforms and they in their wide variety have perfectly adapted to our planet’s many climates and microclimates. Trees are powerhouses of natural resources and we have depended on their immense wealth for as long as we have been here. Unfortunately, I think we take them for granted; believing them to always be in abundance.  There has always been another to chop down…and another and another.

This has led to major deforestation. According to data compiled by the World Resources Institute, our beautiful planet Earth has already lost 80 percent of its forest cover due to deforestation.

Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment.  Seventy percent of the planet’s land animals and plants live in forests, and will perish without their homes. Trees play a crucial role in absorbing greenhouse gases. Fewer forests means larger amounts of these gases entering the atmosphere and this increases the speed and severity of global warming.

Deforestation must stop if we are to continue on this planet.  I think some don’t realise how much we need trees and as a lover of trees, like my literary hero, The Lorax,  I shall speak for the trees…

lorax on stump

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”
~from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss~(credit: Public domain)

Forests are vital to our Ecosystem

Forests counter erosion by holding soil together with their roots, this helps keep the nutrient rich topsoil in place which gives plants something to grow and flourish in, this also helps reduce flooding.  They protect agriculture by modifying local climate extremes and ensuring water supplies. They help prevent pollution by acting like natural sponges and air filters; absorbing storm water that normally would end up in our rivers and streams.

Trees sequester carbon and absorb other airborne pollutants. They even have the ability to clean contaminated soil and ground water. One mature tree releases enough oxygen to support two people.

The leaves of trees absorb light energy, reducing reflected heat. When trees absorb water through their root system, they release moisture through leaf surfaces by a process called transpiration.  This cools the air and can reduce the surrounding temperature by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature directly under the tree by as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Tree canopies blocks the sun’s rays during the day and holds in heat at night. Without them to protect us this will lead to more extreme temperatures swings that can be harmful to plants, animals and humans.

Trees help return water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.

Trees and People

Studies have shown the relationship between trees and nature and mental and physical health. Patients in hospitals heal more quickly if they have a view of trees and nature. People are much more likely to go outside and walk through tree-lined communities,  helping to provide a sense of community and well-being which in itself enhances people’s health. Simply viewing nature, or urban greenery decreases stress levels and enables people to cope better with day-to-day hardships.

Trees are Economical

Trees, especially mature ones, increase real estate values. They muffle urban noise and during the cold season; act as windbreaks; saving on heating costs. During the hot summer months their shade helps cool a house thus saving on air conditioning costs.

Trees are good neighbors

Trees are good for business

Trees not only improves the ability of residential neighborhoods to build community, they also contribute positively to business districts. Studies have shown that shoppers prefer to spend more time in canopied business districts and perceive merchants in those districts more positively than merchants in districts with fewer trees. This ultimately results in wider community networks encompassing not just where we live, but also where we work, shop, and play.

I think I’ve presented a good case for trees. Obviously we need them and they need us . How can we help our friends the trees?

friends of trees

How to help trees

Deforestation is such an immense problem. It is easy to feel helpless. Where do we start?

What follows are some simple ways your average person like you and I can do:

  • If you have the room on your property plant a tree or two…or more. If you must cut one down, replace it with another in a different spot.
  • If you don’t have the room or the opportunity to plant a tree, consider joining the Plant A Billion Trees Campaign and help protect The Brazilian rainforest which is home to 23 species of primates and 1,180 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish and 1,000 species of birds, almost 200 of which are not found anywhere else on Earth. Rainforests help regulate the atmosphere and stabilize global climate.
  • Help support The Nature Conservatory. This is a good cause which needs all the help it can get. Click on the link to read more about this fine organization.
  • Want to help closer to home?  Support Local Land Trusts and Parks. There are many to choose from, just a quick Google search will uncover many.
  • Cut down on junk mail. It’s fairly simple: Register for the Mail Preference Service on the Direct Marketing Association website. For $1, your name and  address will be removed from prospective mailing lists. This should end about 75% of your junk mail within about 90 days. ( Who likes junk mail anyway?)
  • Use Paperless Billing. It cuts down on paper and really simplifies your life, giving you more time to go out and enjoy nature.
  • Another way to save paper is to simply reuse scraps. I use old envelopes for my shopping lists. Also when printing something consider using both sides and while you are at it, ask yourself “Do I really need to print this?” Sometimes you sincerely don’t need to.
  • Libraries are the perfect place to go for free access to newspapers and  magazines in print. E-readers like the Kindle and tablets like the iPad makes it easier than ever to read the digital editions of your favorite publications.
  • Use reusable shopping bags. It can be a hassle to remember but once you get used to it, it gets easy. Keep a few in your car or by the front door. Lead by example and show other shoppers you care about the environment. Perhaps you’ll prompt them to do the same.
  • While you are shopping, whether it be furniture, building materials or paper goods, look for FSC- and SFI-certified products. The FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council, which sets standards for third-party certification of private forests worldwide. The SFI is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which focuses on wood from North American Forests. Another excellent way to shop is by using Rainforest Alliance Certified Products, for a list visit their website.
I've got the whole world in my hands

We’ve got the whole world in our hands. Credit: Public domain

WE CAN DO THIS!

I realise what I’ve said here is simplistic and the problem goes so much further than any one person or any one nation for that matter.  I could cover my property in trees and never use a single piece of paper again. Everyone reading this could do the same, but the problem would still be there.  I suppose that’s why I’m writing this; to help keep a dialogue going because we as a society need to have this discussion.  We need to make saving our forests and saving our planet a priority.  Our governments could do so much more.  Socially, we can do more.  We are a constantly evolving people and what was acceptable once doesn’t mean it has to be acceptable in the future.

Many believe that growing our economies is more important than growing trees. These two important causes do not need to be mutually exclusive. We the people are a force to be reckoned with.

Write a blog post; better yet, write your local government official, write the president, any president… tell them we need to stop the abuse of our planet, if not for our sake, for the sake of our children and our children’s children who will inherit the mess from us.  Think the environment is going to hell now?  This is nothing compared to the nightmare that future generations may inherit if we don’t act.

I don’t mean to sound negative because I am hopeful.  We have made it this far in the evolutionary ladder. This is another stepping stone to our ultimate destiny, whatever that will be.

We in the first world can lead the way, together with the rest of the world we can fix this. The time of the United States’ domination is over. We have set the standard for the rest of the world and it’s not fair to blame other less fortunate countries from trying to get a piece of what we have. Instead of condemning and punishing them, we need to help them. We need to work together on this. This planet belongs to us all and so does the problem.

We can do it!

3 trees

“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness.” 

~Khalil Gibran

UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.

UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

The Benefits of Trees (newswatch.nationalgeographic.

Deforestation Facts and Stats (worldpreservationfoundation.org)

Reforestation (oregonforests.org)

The Friends of Trees (www.friendsoftrees.org)  An excellent organization

“Look Now–The world in facts, stats, and graphics” ©2010 by Joe Fullman, Ian Graham, Sally Regan and Isabel Thomas

“The Urban Tree Book” ©2000 by Arthur Plotnik 

“The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss (one of my all-time personal favorites)

electric blue sky with pines by SBI

I speak for the trees (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com) One of my first posts

Severe Drought In The Amazon Is Caused By Climate Change, Study Finds (planetsave.com)

Tree and human health may be linked (sott.net)

Real Estate Tip:Trees Improve Energy Efficiency (themarycoxteam.wordpress.com)

Clones of the world’s oldest and largest trees,… (rivalanimus.com)

65 thoughts on “Save the Trees

  1. My wife and I have the good fortune of living less than an hour from the Cleveland National Forest and Mt Laguna, a favorite hiking and camping environment. If not for our National Forests, I’m sure some major residential or business complex would have overrun these cherished areas as well. Your “tree blog” reminds me of a Joni Mitchell song, within which are the lyrics regarding seeing a tree in a tree museum. Sad if that should ever happen… but it could. Have a wonderful day. Peace.

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  2. Wow…. I’m so glad you shared the link to this older article in your recent post, as this was written before I was Following. This is a wonderful declaration of love for trees – something that resonates very deeply with me too. Thank you for sharing your talented passion here, along with all these informative links and powerful quotes. I feel so inspired to continue doing all I can to help save trees! Hugs of gratitude, Gina

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  5. It’s good that you brought out this issue, deforestation should be stop. This is one of the problem that my country is facing right now, I hope to all concern should put an action regarding this matter…

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  8. This is another one for the “submit for publication” file. Thoughtful, pithy, well written, great accompanying photos, facts interesting and woven into impacts on our continued existence, plus loved the suggestions for small acts people can do for positive impact on environment. Great job, Nancy!

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  10. Great post Nancy……
    I can’t believe I actually agree with disperser on something! ;)
    Just finished an EXCELLENT book on this same theme: “Strangely Like War” by Derrick Jensen.

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  11. Congratulations, Strawberry Ycnan! Great article!
    “We have made it this far in the evolutionary ladder. This is another stepping stone to our ultimate destiny, whatever that will be.”
    Yes!
    Swinging through the trees into our future together!
    Tomas

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  12. Once again, I feel the need to point out a glaring omission to the suggested courses of action . . . . humans need to stop reproducing at current levels. Sure, we can substitute other things to construct stuff currently made from trees . . . but they be not good either.

    Frankly, for all the talk of green this, and green that, and all the hope that technology will find an answer, it boils down to each human needing a certain amount of resources to survive, and as a result producing a certain amount of waste. Even without going into the quality of life issue, I have little confidence we can stop messing up the planet without getting reproduction under control.

    For them for whom it’s not too late . . . http://www.vhemt.org/. I did my part.

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    • Hello Disperser! I’m glad you are here! :D Mr. and Mrs. Disperser saw fit to see you into this world….so I will leave it up to you to inspire others not to procreate. The rest of us will have to muddle through somehow. Thanks for the link (and yes I did click it)

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      • There is some speculation they might not have, had they known of the creature that emerged . . . and I am doing my part by being that creature, and scaring the pants back on to people who don’t want to run the same risk.

        Seriously, the question is often thrown back at me . . . “What if your parents had decided not to have kids?” It’s a tough one to answer . . . because, you know, not only I would not be here, but also I would not know I was not here.

        Further, none of the people who know me would know I was not here, because none would know me to know I did not exist. Still following? Good.

        The answer is . . . a non-event all-around. Basically the same as for the literally billion and billion of sperms and eggs that never combined to do squat.

        One might argue we are lucky to be here (our exact combination of faults highly probably unique in the universe), but then one would have to assess that by each of the individual circumstances. Given all the suffering, worries, pain, (and I’ll throw in stupidity, cruelty, meanness,) in the world, might venture a guess the implied question is still up in the air.

        It could be my parents did me a favor . . . but I say it’s still up in the air, and the comparison to the alternative is not valid.

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  13. You speak truth, lady. I also have always loved trees and tall men, and have spent almost all of my adult life advocating on their behalf (the trees, not the men – hahahaha). Humanity forgets so easily how powerful we are, how effortlessly we destroy, and how simple it really, truly is to clean up our messes. Plant some trees. Stand in the rain. Remember this was home to us, not very long ago, at all. :-)

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  14. Important message for trees and our environment. Other than e-book, e-magazines,… I’m encouraged to see big departments are emailing receipts instead of printing out long paper receipts. Thank you for the additional information!

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  15. Great article! Very informative. I love the woods too. Hailing from Nova Scotia, means sometimes waking up to a grey misty sky, but the fog has a smell and I’ll tell you when that smell mixes with the fir tree smell, it’s delightful! :)

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  16. Good information and great points! The idea that economy growth and environmentalism do not have to be at odds with one another is right on. In fact it could be another economic job sector if we pushed for it more so than we do.
    Out here we are struggling with the bark beetle and to see all of the dead trees is very disheartening. I am hoping the Forest Service does something soon otherwise we will have more fires in the summer. Yet, fires can be good if we retree the areas etc. The whole cycle and what not…either way I love going to the mountains and listening to the wind blow through the trees, it is awe-some:)

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    • Hey Niaaeryn: Thanks so much for your concern and interest in this vitally important subject. I was surprised and happy that Obama mentioned in his speech this morning about global warming and The US leading the way in green technology.

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