ARBOR week is celebrated in the first week of September every year, to raise awareness of trees species, that are threatened by extinction and the need to plant and maintain indigenous trees throughout South Africa.
Planting a tree, even one, makes a huge difference. Trees give us life as they provide us with a healthier living environment.
WHY ARE TREES IMPORTANT TO THE ENVIRONMENT?
Trees help clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and provide shelter and a home to over 80% of the world's living species.
Here are the six pillars that explain why trees are vital:
Trees help to clean the air we breathe. Through
their leaves and bark, they absorb harmful pollutants and release clean oxygen
for us to breathe. In urban environments, trees absorb poisonous pollutants
like nitrogen oxides, ozone, and carbon monoxide, and sweep up particles like
dust and smoke. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide caused by deforestation and fossil fuel
combustion trap heat in the atmosphere. Healthy, strong trees act as carbon
sinks, offset carbon and reducing the
effects of climate change.
Trees play a key role in capturing rainwater and reducing the risk of natural disasters like floods and landslides. Their intricate root systems act like filters, removing pollutants and slowing down the water’s absorption into the soil. This process prevents harmful waterslide erosion and reduces the risk of over-saturation and flooding.
A single tree can be home to hundreds of
species of insect, fungi, moss, mammals, and plants. Depending on the kind of
food and shelter they need, different forest animals require different types of
habitat. Without trees, forest creatures would have nowhere to call home. Forests
also help to provide jobs to millions of people all over the world. They absorb harmful carbon from the atmosphere,
and are key ingredients in 25% of all medicines. Have you ever taken an
Aspirin? It comes from the bark of a tree!
From arborists to loggers and researchers,
the job opportunities provided by the forestry industry are endless. We don’t
just rely on trees for work, though. Sustainable tree farming provides timber
to build homes and shelters, and wood to burn for cooking and heating.
Food-producing trees provide fruit, nuts, berries, and leaves for consumption
by both humans and animals, and pack a powerful nutritional punch.
Did you know that hospital patients with
rooms overlooking trees recover faster than those without the same view? Trees
help reduce stress and anxiety, and allow us to reconnect with nature. In
addition, shade provided by tree coverage helps protect our skin from the
ever-increasing harshness of the sun.
Trees help cool the planet by sucking in and storing harmful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into their trunks, branches, and leaves — and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. In cities, pollution and overheating are becoming a real threat. Fortunately, a mature tree can absorb an average of 22 kg of carbon dioxide per year, making cities a healthier, safer place to live.
So arbor day helps remind us the importance of trees in our world. Let’s do our bit to save our planet our future generations.