A 2012 US Forest Service research study found that urban tree cover has been declining at a rate of about 20,000 acres per year or about 4 million trees per year. This greatly impacts the numerous benefits trees provide related to air and water quality, air temperatures, energy use, social well-being, and human health. Let's look at a few benefits of having trees in your home yard and neighborhood.
Trees provide an economic benefit. According to Garden Media trend report, trees increase property values by three to ten percent! Employees near trees take less days off work. Hospital patients looking at trees recover faster. Shoppers spend 12 percent more for good sold on tree lined streets.
Trees provide emotional release. I've written many times about the psychological benefits of being around plants. Trees simply make us feel better, providing a sense of peace and serenity from hectic lifestyles.
Research at University of Illinois Landscape and Human Health Lab firmly establishes the importance of trees to stronger, safer communities and robust concentration, self-control, and coping in individuals (http://lhhl.illinois.edu/about.htm).
Trees benefit our environment. Obviously trees release the oxygen we breathe, but they also help cleanse the air. Their roots help prevent erosion. Their leaves provide needed summer shade and reduce air conditioning use. In winter, some trees buffer wind to reduce heating costs.
The very popular University of Illinois Extension website "Dr. Arbor Talks Trees" tells all about the benefits of tree, and much more! It is a fun website for adults too! Check it out at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/trees3/01.html.
As we approach the holiday season it seems appropriate to discuss the controversy of real versus artificial Christmas trees. Real Christmas trees provide the same environmental benefits discussed above. Just like any other agricultural crop, these trees are a renewable crop and they are recyclable. Artificial trees are a petroleum-based product manufactured primarily outside the U.S. The average family uses an artificial tree for six to nine years, and then it remains for centuries in the landfill after disposal.
Trees are beautiful and important for our livelihood. An old proverb says, "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now."