In the "How to Build a Community" poster by the Syracuse Cultural Workers, one line speaks so loudly to me: Know that no one is silent though many are not heard.
As The Lorax proclaimed: "I speak for the trees." But why?
1. Trees Provide Oxygen (and Reduce Climate Change)
The equation is fundamental: During photosynthesis, a tree "inhales" CO2 from the air and then separates the carbon from the oxygen molecules. The carbon is absorbed by the tree, which then "exhales" pure oxygen back into the air for us to breathe. In the process just described, trees also serve as carbon sinks. Such carbon sinks offset carbon dioxide emissions and reduce climate change.
2. Trees Provide Food
Trees offer food like nuts and fruits for humans and other creatures. The folks at SavaTree add: "Many animals, including elephants, koalas, and giraffes eat leaves for nourishment. Flowers are eaten by monkeys, and nectar is a favorite of birds, bats, and many insects. Animals also eat much of the same fruit that we enjoy. This process helps disperse seeds over great distances."
3. Trees Provide Homes
From nearly microscopic insects to camouflaged reptiles to feathered friends to wily primates and beyond, each tree is a vast, thriving eco-system in and of itself. The destruction of even a single small tree not only disrupts natural cycles, it also sentences countless creatures to death.
4. Trees Provide Medicine
For 5.1 billion people: 85% of the world's population. Even in a modern society like the U.S, plants are the original herbs and the primary source materials for as many as 40% of the pharmaceuticals in use.
5. Trees Provide Shade and Protection
Due to ozone depletion, we now have to endure increased amounts of potentially dangerous ultraviolet radiation. Thanks to our tree friends, we get some shade and protection.
6. Trees Provide Energy Savings
"All the farmhouses are surrounded by trees," writes Josh Peterson. "You see, the farmers know that planting trees in the right places is good for their houses and it's good for the land. The trees act as windbreaks and keep the snow from drifting up against the house. It also keeps that valuable topsoil in place. And in the summer time, there is no better place to beat that ridiculous Midwestern heat than in the shade of a tree. You can use the same principals to make your house more energy efficient with proper tree placement."
7. Trees Provide Pollution Reduction
Trees absorb pollutants like sulfur dioxide, ozone, and nitrogen oxides through the stomates in the surface of their leaves. Up to a 60% reduction in street level particulates has been found on tree-lined streets and roadways. Trees also muffle urban noise pollution.
8. Trees Provide Erosion and Flood Prevention
Deforestation negatively impacts the amount of water in the soil and groundwater and the moisture in the atmosphere. Without tree roots to hold soil in place and fight erosion, we are seeing more runoff and less sediment deposit after storms. This result in higher levels of chemicals in our water and far more flooding. On a related note, mangrove trees protect coastal areas from ocean waves and work in smooth symbiosis with coral reefs.
9. Trees Provide Soil Enrichment
Fallen leaves make excellent compost that enriches soil. Here's how the USDA Forest Service explains it: "Needles and leaves that fall are not wasted. They decompose and restock the soil with nutrients and make up part of the spongy humus layer of the forest floor that absorbs and holds rainfall. Fallen leaves also become food for numerous soil [image-1]organisms vital to the forest ecosystem."
10. Trees Provide Beauty and Natural Wealth
Some people look at trees and see only lumber and profits. Sane people look at trees and see kindred spirits, fellow travelers, and eons of wisdom from which we have so much more to learn.
[image-2]How to "hug" trees and pay your rent this week: