Trees. What do you think of when you hear this word? Pictures of lush greenery giving shade to the ground below… or perhaps images of an old oak that you climbed as a kid. Whatever the vision may be, all of us have fond memories of trees. Although those memories can never be replaced, trees bring more value than nostalgia. They are a symbol of life. And they contribute to almost every dimension of our lives—past, present, and future.
Trees are like the lungs of our environment. They cleanse the air by breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen. What a perfect match to what our lungs need! Trees come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors too.
Trees help our environment by:
- Cleansing CO2 and other contaminants from the air
- Helping to reduce ozone levels in urban areas
- Absorbing sound to decrease noise pollution
- Stabilizing the soil, which reduces erosion caused by rain runoff and wind
- Increasing drinkable water
Keep reading to discover more about how trees help our environment and bodies…
Unfortunately, as the population grows, so does deforestation. Deforestation is the process of clearing away vast areas of trees for use such as urban development. With deforestation comes a host of issues that we, as stewards of our plant, need to be aware of and mitigate as much as possible.
As you might have guessed, deforestation acts as an opposing force to every attribute of trees in our environment. For example:
- Trees provide clean air. Deforestation takes away the planet’s lungs.
- Trees stabilize the soil to prevent erosion that causes issues during heavy rainfalls and flooding. Deforestation counteracts the stabilization by restricting the water flow to slow and be soaked into the ground.
- Trees help water soak into the water table underground where we get potable water. Deforestation allows water to rush on the surface with minimal ground absorption, leading to less drinkable water from the water table.
How Trees Clean the Air
CO2 is said to be a contributing factor to the greenhouse effect. What contributes to CO2 emissions?
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)…
“Global carbon emissions from fossil fuels have significantly increased since 1900. Since 1970, CO2 emissions have increased by about 90%, with emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributing about 78% of the total greenhouse gas emissions increase from 1970 to 2011. Agriculture, deforestation, and other land-use changes have been the second-largest contributors.”[i]
Trees absorb pollutants through pores in their leaves. They “breathe” in carbon dioxide and convert it to food. The byproduct of this conversion is oxygen, which our lungs rely on. According to one report, “Typically, a tree absorbs as much as 48 pounds (21 kg) of carbon dioxide per year and can sequester 1 ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.” [ii]
The more trees, the healthier our air is for us to breathe!
How Trees Help Reduce Soil Erosion
What is soil erosion? Soil erosion happens when the particles on the topsoil are loosened and washed down the slope of the land. Rainfall and wind are naturally occurring methods of soil erosion…but this is why trees are also a natural remedy to the issue.
When the topsoil is washed away first, it makes growing plants in the soil nearly impossible—because the topsoil is the most nutrient-rich layer. Without the minerals and nutrients in the topsoil, the ground can’t support much life, leaving it dry and barren.
How can trees help? Consider the olive tree, for example, which provides tall and wide protection for the land and has a unique root system. Unlike most trees that grow roots deep into the ground, the olive tree sends its roots into the shallower topsoil to soak up the fast-drying water on top of the earth’s surface.
It’s as if the olive tree was meant as a treatment to our soil erosion problem. With dry, barren land such as the Negev Desert, you can see the difficulty the nation of Israel had when it came to restoring the land and developing a thriving economy with traditional methods.
They used their innovative minds and harnessed the earth’s potential by planting the olive tree. The olive tree is unique and thrives in desert areas and can withstand the heat and wind that most trees cannot.
How Trees Help Provide Drinkable Water
Most of us know trees are good for the environment because they help clean the air, but they are also useful to us by cleaning water. One report from the USDA states that nearly 80 percent of our drinking water comes from forested areas.
It's necessary to understand the role trees play in the water collecting and dispensing process, so that we know how we can contribute to the health of our plants and bodies—rather than harming them unknowingly.
The trees carry rain or water that falls on the ground to underground aquifers. The water quality is improved as water is “filtered” through the roots and soil. Some communities, societies, and cities depend solely on these underground wells, or aquifers, for drinkable water.
How You Can Help Plant Trees
Trees are undeniably a resource we cannot live without. We are responsible for taking care of what we have on this planet, as well as the people, and future generations. If we don’t, who will? And what will tomorrow bring without the help of today?
Many ask why we plant olive trees in Israeli soil…the answer is: It’s the act of something so much bigger than ourselves.
Planting an olive tree gives the message of peace. It provides jobs for farmers and other subsidiary olive oil businesses for generations—because the olive tree lives, on average, 500 years!
You can give back to the environment, sow into the lives of people, and make a stand with one of the most influential nations in the Middle East. You are the one who can make a difference. You are the one who sows seeds of hope for a greener and brighter tomorrow. We provide the tree that allows you to be part of something bigger.
Check out ways you can get involved and give back HERE!