The benefits of trees

By Dan Eskelson
Reader Columnist

A recent news story brought to light some very interesting studies conducted in metropolitan areas about the  benefits of trees. The incidence of violence at large housing projects was related to the amount of trees and other landscaping. The well documented scientific study concluded that at housing projects that included trees, the rate of violent crime was less than one half of that at projects with no trees.

Pretty amazing statistics! It is believed that trees provide a setting for neighbors to come together, helping to increase a sense of community, cooperation and well being. In addition, trees may provide us with a natural “release” from the stresses of our mechanized world.

Another benefit of trees, as described by the Arbor Day Foundation, is in combating global warming. Carbon dioxide, produced by burning fossil fuels, is readily absorbed by trees and other plant material. The more trees we plant, the more of this greenhouse gas will be absorbed.trees-benefits

Here is a brief list of some of the other benefits of trees:

•“One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” U.S. Department of Agriculture

•“There are up to 200 million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of carbon dioxide every year, and saving $4 billion in energy costs.” National Wildlife Federation

•“In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.” Dr. Roger S. Ulrich, Texas A&M University

•“Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20 – 50 percent in energy used for heating.” USDA Forest Service

•“The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the ground water supply. Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams.” -USDA Forest Service

•“Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent.” Management Information Services/ICMA

•In addition to all the above benefits, it’s personally very satisfying to plant and nurture a tree. In our age of high- tech quick fixes, planting a tree will remind us of higher values and more important causes.

“I thank you for the seeds…Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity.” Thomas Jefferson

To learn more about the benefits of trees, how to plant them, and lists of locally approved trees, visit this very comprehensive website: http://www.cityofsandpoint.com/municipalservices/communityforestry.asp

Garden Questions? http://clearwaterlandscapes.com/questions

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