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News / Life / Clark County Life

Gardening with Allen: Trees help people, animals, insects

By Allen Wilson, Columbian freelance writer
Published: July 6, 2024, 6:05am

I have always loved trees. I know how they have benefitted me. Could you share with us some of the other benefits trees provide for our environment and community?

I share a love of trees. I belong to an organization called the Arbor Day Foundation. Its stated purpose: “We inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.” I have learned a lot about the intrinsic value of trees from the group.

Perhaps the most important benefit of trees in today’s world of climate change is their value in improving our environment. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Carbon dioxide is the leading cause of global warming. Trees also absorb dust and other pollutants in the air onto their leaves. Then they are washed off by rain. That is why trees are especially needed in and around industrial areas that release pollutants into the air.

Trees provide relief from the heat of the summer sun. Their shade reduces the temperature in and around buildings. They interrupt the radiant heat of the sun through windows and in areas such as patios, parks and playgrounds.

Trees in parks and playgrounds provide places for families and communities to gather for outdoor recreation.

Fruit trees provide food and nourishment for people. Other trees provide food and nourishment for animals and birds. Bees and insects feed on their flowers.

Besides planting and caring for trees in your own yard, how can your efforts increase our tree population? Can you do something in the neighborhood or community? A group of neighbors got together and decided to plant street trees. They approached a local nursery and got a discount on a group of trees for street tree planting. This approach not only saved money but created uniformity. They were able to afford larger trees with a better chance of survival. This group also took responsibility to see that trees were watered until they were established. Many cities have a forester or park superintendent who can organize tree planting on a community level.

Outside organizations such as the Arbor Day Foundation sponsor tree planting projects. They actually use satellite technology to identify communities that need trees the most.

I like this quote from Wangari Maathai: “You can make a lot of speeches, but the real thing is when you dig a hole, plant a tree, give it water and make it survive.”

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Columbian freelance writer