Why trees are important

“Arc of Amazon Deforestation Brazil” by visionshare is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Trees store CO2

We all know that deforestation is a major contributor to the increase in greenhouse gases. Much of this is driven by the food we eat – farm animals (even chickens) are fed on soy grown in areas where virgin forest has been razed. Mining, mineral and oil extraction also destroy forests. Here is a list of some of the organisations campaigning to stop this. If you have favourites to add to this list, please contact us or email transitiontownmk@protonmail.com

Direct environmental benefits of trees

It may not seem important, but cutting down mature trees, even if several are planted to replace them, has a significant impact, particularly in our towns.

Mature and large trees like planes store carbon, while their roots and crowns support wildlife and slow rainfall, reducing urban flooding. Transpiration and shade from their canopies reduces temperatures in heatwaves, while pollution-trapping leaves lower the prevalence of asthma, to say nothing of their impact in reducing noise from traffic.

A single 400-year-old oak can support more than 2,000 bird, insect, fungus and lichen species. Each tree also produces 234,000 litres of oxygen a year.

“Old Plane Tree. Stanley Mill. King’s Stanley Gloucestershire.” by amandabhslater is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Trees and people

You may have heard of “forest bathing”. This is the idea that there is a positive physiological benefit from being around trees. The science behind it is quoted here… “There are certain phytoncides – chemicals given off by plants, including oak trees – which can affect our physiology,” says environmental psychologist Dr Mike Rogerson. “It’s the basis for aromatherapy. Some of these phytoncides relax, some stimulate, and some even boost our immune systems.”

Mature street trees benefit people in other ways. Studies have variously shown that they:

However, the UK has a terrible record at cutting down street trees as well as removing mature trees for infrastructure projects such as HS2. It is not enough to argue that new trees can be planted. It takes several lifetimes to create a mature tree of a large species and this is what is needed in our cities and countryside.

See the full article on this here.

“Arboricide in Euston” by Matt From London is licensed under CC BY 2.0