Just about everyone loves trees. They provide shade and cool us down on a hot summer day; they are good for our health and help clean the air we breathe. Trees offer many benefits and play a crucial role in our daily lives. Here’s a breakdown on why we can’t live without trees.
Trees Provide Shade
Trees and urban forests naturally cool the air. The direct shade they provide lowers the air and surface temperatures. A process called evapotranspiration also plays a key role.
So, what exactly does this crazy word combo mean? Evaporation is a physical process that transforms liquid water into vapor by absorbing heat. Transpiration is the biological process of plants releasing water vapor through leaves. Between 70-120 liters of water per day evaporate from a tree canopy, absorbing heat energy all around it.
Trees Provide Natural Air Conditioning
Urban forests and parks offer comfort to people who live in urban environments. Under tree canopies, temperatures can be up to 10 degrees lower than in direct sunlight. The canopies can intercept up to 90% of the sunlight, while trees with wider leaves can block up to 97%.
In contrast, asphalt, tar, gravel and brick absorb a lot of heat from direct sunlight and can become scorching hot. This is why it is near impossible to walk barefoot on concrete! Ouch!
Trees Improve the Environment
Trees also help conserve energy. When properly placed in urban settings, their shade can reduce energy use in homes, offices and other buildings. Trees also improve air quality by removing pollution from the atmosphere. They lower greenhouse gas emissions and enhance water quality by naturally filtering pollutants from water before it enters our streams, rivers and lakes.
Trees Offer Health Benefits
Exposure to forests and trees results in many health benefits. It is fascinating, actually, what mother nature can do to our bodies. Spending time in nature boosts our immune system. When we take in fresh air, we breathe in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. These chemicals have antibacterial and antifungal qualities which help fight disease.
Just looking at trees reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and improves mood. Studies show exercising in forests and even just looking at trees reduces blood pressure and the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
Spending time in nature helps you focus. When we look at plants, water, birds and other natural elements, our brain gets a break and we have more patience.
Trees also help the sick. Researchers found hospital patients with a ‘green view’, have shorter postoperative stays, take fewer painkillers and have fewer complications. Patients who had no view or a view of a cement wall didn’t fare as well.
Trees also boost our mental health and are associated with a drop in anxiety and depression. A short walk or hike can do wonders for us. Trees provide the perfect environment in public places for people to walk, meet with friends, and take lunch breaks. It is no accident that parks are often placed near office complexes. Encouraging workers to get outside can boost their productivity when they return to the office.
Wildlife Need Trees Too
Trees also protect wildlife. Many animals and large organisms depend on trees for food, shelter and reproduction. When the weather is bad, animals seek shade and protection under trees near their food source. Mature trees offer animals fruits and foraging opportunities.
A Future Without Trees
It is hard to imagine an earth without trees. If this happens, people will lose their primary sources of water, food, shelter and even income. We can help protect our resources by planting new trees, supporting conservation organizations, and enjoying forests responsibly. In addition, we can buy
Rain Forest Alliance certified products and use tree-free products, such as bamboo, which is rising in popularity.