Environmental problems are abundant across the globe. From climate change to air and water pollution, invasive species and ecosystem destruction, these issues are complex and interconnected.
The truth is, there is no simple solution to any of these issues. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to fight them whenever and wherever we can.
We believe that restoring native trees to where they belong is the simplest and most cost-effective way that everyday people can make a difference to their local environment. Why? Because trees offer much more than meets the eye.
Trees provide us with fresh air.
Carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, is sucked out of the atmosphere and is used to build and maintain the roots, branches and leaves of our favorite trees. Carbon is also stored in the soil through a mutualistic relati0nship with fungi.
Trees also remove other air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and ozone, thus improving the respiratory health of those nearby.
A wildlife haven.
Native trees provide countless benefits for wildlife. Their flowers provide bees, butterflies and other pollinators with nectar and pollen. The seeds, nuts, berries or fruit are invaluable for birds and mammals. Trees also provide wildlife with shelter and a home to raise their young.
For example, some Oak trees support hundreds or even thousands of insects or animals at some point in their life cycle.
Trees improve our water quality and decrease runoff.
Trees filter and control stormwater. Their roots prevent erosion by holding the soil in place, and their leaves soften the landing of raindrops on the ground. Their complex root systems filter stormwater and remove pollutants, increasing water quality.
In urban and suburban environments, flood severity can be greatly decreased by increasing the tree canopy.
Trees are essential cultural elements of our communities.
What would your favorite park be without any trees? Trees beautify our parks, streets and neighborhoods, displaying a wide variety of colors and shapes during each season. They provide shade for recreational activities and cool our cities and parks.
Lastly, trees are free daily medicine. They lower blood pressure and stress, and improve your mood and self-esteem.
Trees provide health and financial benefits
Did you know that planting a tree on your property can increase its value by 2 – 15%? Not to mention the reduced energy costs mature trees will provide. Properly positioned trees will provide shade and cooling in the summer, and block cold winter winds from the North in the winter, reducing total energy needs for your house by up to 25%.
Before planting trees anywhere, consider what your ecosystem may have looked like before European colonization. Where we operate in southeastern Pennsylvania, hardwood forests historically dominated, and covered upwards of 95% of the state. These forests consisted of a diverse understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants.
In some parts of the country, forests may not have been the dominant ecotype. Instead, your area may have historically been a savannah, prairie, grassland or desert. It is unwise to focus on “reforesting” these areas with trees that may not belong there. Instead, install the plants that are native to your ecotype. These include native grasses, shrubs, forbs, cacti and succulents. Ultimately, ecosystems that are most functional provide the most benefits.