Trees and forests cover nearly one-third of the earth’s surface, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Trees beautify the landscape, remove pollutants from the air and create the oxygen we breathe. That’s why maintaining sustainable management of both natural and planted trees remains important to tree conservation efforts. One way to help tree conservation is to add trees to the landscape and gardens that surround our everyday lives.
To restore and maintain soil and water resources while removing 25 percent of the carbon in our atmosphere, the Worldwatch Institute estimates the planet needs at least 321 million acres of trees. In the United States alone, forests take up 745 million acres of land. Yet, some forests keep diminishing, including the rainforests where 1.5 acres of forest are lost each second.
Trees provide more than 5,000 products that make our lives more comfortable, including nuts, fruits, oils, medicine and wood for household goods and construction. According to North Carolina State University, a person uses wood and paper products each year equivalent to a 100-foot tall tree with an 18-inch trunk. The processing, manufacturing and distribution of these products provides jobs for many people. As long as forests are replanted, the trees will provide jobs and economic benefits.
Gardeners and landscapers find trees invaluable for shading buildings on hot summer days, eliminating a need for extra energy for cooling. Trees can be used as windbreaks along borders, fences or yards, keeping snow and damaging winds to a minimum. Trees also beautify the landscape, especially in cities where they integrate nature into urban areas.
According to a survey by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, more than 8,000 tree species remain threatened with extinction. This represents nearly 10 percent of all tree species.
Wildlife depends on trees for shelter, food and temporary habitat. Birds also rely on certain trees for food, nesting locations and shelter. Even dead trees help wildlife, such as woodpeckers, squirrels and other small mammals that use the cavities for shelter and raising their young.
The rainforest contains a wealth of trees and plants that may prove useful for medicinal purposes. More than 25 percent of Western medicine comes from rainforest ingredients, yet only 1 percent of the trees and plants are further tested to determine other benefits. Pharmaceutical companies research rainforest trees in hoping of finding cures to life-threatening diseases.
- Rainforest Facts: The Disappearing Rainforests
- Hardwood Plywood & Veneer Association
- United Nations Environmental Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre: Towards a Global Tree Conservation atlas
- TreeLink: Benefits of Trees
- North Carolina State University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences: Tree Facts