The reasons to plant a tree run the gamut from the practical to the spiritual, from percentages of monetary value saved to poems in praise of trees. National and world-wide organizations exist to encourage people to plant more trees, and individuals write and speak about the value of trees. Thomas Jefferson, for example, implies a life-affirming benefit of trees in this seemingly practical list: “Under them I breakfast, dine, write, read and receive my company.”
For Beauty and Inspiration
Something about the sizes, shapes and longevity of trees affects people profoundly. J Sterling Morton said that “the cultivation of trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in man.” John Muir said that “the clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” And Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees,” about “a poem lovely as a tree,” is familiar to most people. Kilmer cites an even more evocative example of loveliness when she adds: “A tree that may in summer wear/A nest or robins in her hair...”
Benefits to the Individual
The Arbor Day Foundation cites numerous statistics from a number of reputable industry and governmental sources about the benefits of planting trees. The benefits include an increase in a home’s value by 15 to 20 percent, a reduction of air-conditioning costs by up to 50 percent, a reduction in heating costs when trees block cold winter winds and a reduction in blood pressure and muscle tension with visual exposure to settings with trees.
Benefits to the Planet
According to the Friends of Trees website, based in Portland, Oregon, the city's trees prevent air pollutants from entering the air and keep polluted storm water from entering rivers. They provide visitors to their website a Benefits Calculator that places a monetary value on the benefits that one tree provides to a homeowner in terms of air quality, property value and other measures.
Because trees naturally use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, they help to reduce global-warming; the Trees for the Future website calculates that the trees they have planted in developing countries have removed many tons of CO2 from the air each year. Trees also provide habitat and food for animals, sustainable wood for building and the prevention of soil erosion.