The more that I learn about trees, the more I appreciate their pricelessness.
Mark Cullen wrote a piece in last Saturday’s Toronto Star that offered a meditation on the value of trees in our life. Cullen reflects on the relationship between tree and person, in particular the person who carefully plants each tree with a purpose.
Someone asked me recently how many trees I have planted on the property and I could not give an accurate response. All I know is that, while the number surely is greater than 2,000, it still is not enough for me. Planting them was half the fun. Measuring their growth against the sky and the passing of time is the other half.
Like an artist, the creation process is only half the trip. Trees grow over time. Their environment adapts to them and they adapt to their environment. Wildlife colonizes its nooks and crannies. Rain or drought dictate each year’s growth.
A tree will stand in the same place for its entire life and never whimper or stray from its roots even once. During that time it will cast cooling shade, convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and, who knows, maybe someone will cut it down when its life is over and use the parts for firewood or to mill into lumber to build a house.
Cullen cited statistics from LEAF, a non-profit organization dedicated to the urban forest, which pegged the value of the urban tree at $160,000 over its lifetime. I couldn’t immediately find more details on the LEAF site, but I did find the following list.
Benefits of the Urban Forest
- Improves air quality by trapping pollution particles that cause breathing problems
- Absorbs carbon dioxide and other gases and in return provides us with oxygen
- Reduces air temperature when water evaporates from the leaves
- Intercepts rainfall resulting in reduced storm water runoff and improved water quality
- Provides much-needed wildlife habitat
- Reduces noise pollution by acting as a sound barrier
- Can increase property values by up to 30%
In addition, the LEAF site noted, deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides of a house can reduce air conditioning needs by up to 40%, while evergreens planted on the north side act as windbreaks, lowering winter heating costs by up to 10%.