Trees provide a wealth of benefits

By Karen Neill
Greensboro, NC (November 14, 2009)- Last Saturday, more than 200 people came together in the Fisher Park neighborhood to plant 150 trees. It was a wonderful, uplifting event, and you couldn’t have asked for a better day. The event, called NeighborWoods, is a project of the Urban Forestry Committee of Greensboro Beautiful, along with the City of Greensboro and the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. This committee selects one neighborhood each year and works with its residents to plant trees in their community. Why, you ask?

Trees help define Greensboro, as they do the other cities in the Piedmont. The purpose of programs such as NeighborWoods is to educate communities on the importance of trees and the role they play in improving air and water quality, reducing energy costs, increasing real estate values, providing wildlife habitats and creating opportunities for residents to relax and enjoy nature.
Imagine our cities without trees. Think about how cold and unwelcoming cities would seem without trees to soften the impact of tall buildings and parking lots. Perhaps because of their constant presence, we often forget the importance of trees in our lives and communities. In Dr. Seuss’s tale “The Lorax,” the disappearance of trees bears dire environmental consequences. At the onset of the story, the landscape is beautiful and lush with shady groves, clean water and ample homes for wildlife. As the tale progresses and trees are cut, the environment starts to sour.
The importance of trees seems apparent when you try to imagine a world without them. So what are we waiting for? If you’d like your neighborhood to be selected for the NeighborWood Project in 2010, visit the city’s Web site and fill out the application. Trees for the NeighborWoods Community Tree Planting Program are funded through a combination of grant money, for which I would like to thank American Express this year, and private donations to our tree fund. These are tax-deductible contributions that can be made through Greensboro Beautiful.
Thanks also to Dunlap Lawn Services, which provided its services by predigging the holes, making this event run smoothly for everyone. The Greensboro Water Resources Division provided the mulch, and printing services were provided by Poster Prints.
Trees act as air cleaners, absorbing carbon dioxide and replacing it with life-giving oxygen. They also remove sulfur dioxide and NO², a major part of acid rain. One acre of trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people and absorbs as much carbon dioxide as a car produces in 26,000 miles.
Trees reduce water pollution by acting as natural filters for storm water runoff. Tree roots prevent erosion by holding soil in place. Tree roots absorb stormwater and can reduce peak storm runoff by 10 percent to 20 percent. Trees can reduce wind speed up to 75 percent.
Trees also provide shade, which makes summer more pleasant and can reduce air conditioning costs by 50 percent. City trees help counter the urban heat-island effect. Downtown can be 7 to 12 degrees higher than rural areas with trees, which makes a significant difference in energy usage.
Trees can reduce noise pollution by acting as a buffer, absorbing 50 percent of urban noise. Trees help provide screens for privacy. They provide homes for wildlife and birds. And, by adding beauty and grace to the landscape, they add value to your property by much as 20 percent and offer a rich inheritance for future generations.
We need trees to line our streets, shade our homes and shape our communities. Even if your neighborhood doesn’t participate on such a grand scale, you can. Plant a tree this fall in your landscape. Our class “Good Tree, Bad Tree — What’s Best for the Triad” may give you some insight on what tree is right for you, including plant selection, sources, planting methods and maintenance.
My favorite line from “The Lorax,” a book I suggest everyone read, is: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.”
Related Resources:
Greensboro News & Record- Trees provide a wealth of benefits