Today is Arbor Day; it began in 1872 when the newly settled state of Nebraska noted the need for trees and instituted a tree-planting holiday. But this year, there will be less greenery, because American cities are losing 36 million trees – per year. Increased development is the main reason for urban tree loss, but arboreal disease, insects, fires, hurricanes, and storms also bring loss. When city trees are replaced by buildings or parking lots, the ground that formerly absorbed rain is now impervious. Paris, France announced a goal of making 50% of the city’s surfaces permeable. Gardens and lawns near the Eiffel Tower will also be extended in preparation for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
TEN BENEFITS OF TREES
Heat reduction – when tree canopy covers 40% of an area, there is a 10 degree (F) cooling
Air quality – trees absorb carbon emissions and pollution
Energy reduction – trees reduce energy costs by $4 billion per year
Water quality – trees cleanse surface water, returning it to groundwater
Flood reduction – trees absorb water and reduce runoff to rivers and streams
Noise reduction – trees muffle traffic noise and add natural sounds of birds and wind
UV radiation protection – trees absorb 96% of ultraviolet radiation
Aesthetics – trees improve property appearance, and value
Health – tree-lined areas have statistically lower human sickness and death rates
Habitat – trees house birds; forests promote wildlife diversity
If you’d like to help maintain and nurture urban tress, consider helping organizations such as the Arbor Day Foundation, and Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition.
Block, India. “Paris plans to go green by planting “urban forest” around architectural landmarks.” 26 June 2019. Dezeen.com. https://www.dezeen.com/2019/06/26/paris-urban-forest-plant-trees-landmarks/
Chillag, Amy. “US cities are losing 36 million trees a year. Here’s why it matters and how you can stop it.” 18 September 2019. CNN.com. https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/20/health/iyw-cities-losing-36-million-trees-how-to-help-trnd/index.html
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unp