“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” ― Nelson Henderson
Here are ten reasons why we should plant trees today and the benefits they will provide us for generations to come:
1. Trees bring communities together
All around us, trees mark the spots where every day and extraordinary life happens. Standing tall and immobile, they are a focal point in our neighbourhoods and our memories. Each one unique and with a distinct presence, trees mark special occasions in our lives from family picnics to engagements, moments of solitude and reflection to the starting point for new adventures. In our communities, trees identify meeting spots as they stand out from the surrounding urban sprawl, a meet-up at the tallest pine, or the weepiest willow can become the start of an adventure. As we plant new trees, we must remember that the trees of today will become the landmarks of the future and that we must choose their locations with care.
2. Trees mark a moment in time
If you’ve counted the rings of a tree or witnessed the old growth forests across our country, you know that trees have a long lifespan. Although most urban trees have a life expectancy of about 80 years, the oldest tree in Canada is estimated to be between 2,500-3,000 years old. There are a few places in Canada, like the city of Vancouver and the province of Ontario that have a Heritage Tree database, which distinguishes trees with historical or cultural significance. These trees tell a story about the history of the area and the people who have lived there. A tree planted today will become a landmark for the future!
3. Trees nourish us
Trees not only offer us many benefits, including shade, beauty or habitat for wildlife, but they can also offer the bounty of food! There are many trees that grow fruit and nuts, such as apple, maple, cherry, saskatoon berry, walnut, hickory, hazelnut, chestnut, butternut, and so many more. When thinking about planting a tree, consider this added benefit as well – not just for humans but for the other living things that share our planet too!
4. Trees provide a place to call home
Trees host many wildlife species, especially birds, mammals, and rodents. When it comes to habitat, every animal has its own specific requirements. Some prefer to live in the treetops rather than in the trunk, while others like dead trees or have a preference for deciduous or evergreen trees. That is why it is important to plant trees that offer a variety of habitat for wildlife.
Trees play an important role for animals, in rural settings as much as in the forest. Trees offering urban wildlife habitat let humans observe and appreciate the many animals living around them.
5. Trees are an investment with compounding benefits
By its simple nature, a tree offers compounding benefits as it grows and ages. As it ages, the tree grows in size, sequesters more and more carbon, intercepts more sun light, and gives an ever-expanding amount of space for people and animals to live and play. A tree that is well cared for in the urban environment may seem small, almost insignificant, at the time of planting, but they will grow and offer benefits to their surrounding environment and future generations, once in their prime.
6. Trees are gifts for the future
As a tree grows, so too does its benefits over time. Like we are able to offer and pass on the wealth of our knowledge as we age, so too does a tree in terms of the benefits it can provide. The time, effort, and resources we invest into planting trees in our urban and rural landscapes will primarily benefit those that follow us. When you plant a tree you must imagine what it will become in 50 years. You must imagine someone else walking beneath it and benefiting from the shade and beauty it offers. As you imagine that, give a silent moment of gratitude to those who planted and maintained the urban and rural canopies we get to enjoy today.
7. Trees build resilience against natural disaster
Trees are great allies in adapting to climate change. They significantly increase community resilience in face of extreme climate events while offering concrete benefits to the population, including limiting the impact of natural disasters. With recurring wildfires affecting Canada, several cities now follow FireSmart planting principles to mitigate the impact of fires. Trees also act as windbreaks and offer a protection against tropical storms, in addition to stabilizing steep slopes to reduce landslide risks. These are only a few examples of why trees are our allies to face natural disasters.
8. Trees are a natural solution to climate change
One way in which trees reduce the severity of climate change is through carbon sequestration. A tree that lives to 100 years old in a typical Canadian forest can sequester anywhere between 370 and 460 kg of CO2 over its lifetime. To put that into perspective, that is the same amount of carbon emitted from an 850 km drive in a compact car.
Do you know what your carbon footprint is? Tree Canada has a carbon calculator to help you understand how much carbon you emit through energy usage and transportation. This calculator can also tell you how many trees you would need to plant to offset your yearly emissions.
9. Trees make us happy and healthy
There is a growing body of research that shows exposure to trees provide positive health benefits. More specifically, research demonstrates that walking in a forest can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression, increase vigor, decrease cortisol levels, and increase our ability to recover from stress.
10. Trees support us, so we should support and plant more of them!
Quite simply, why not plant a tree? Whether on your property, with your employees or colleagues, or as part of a planting event organized in your community; you simply need to find a planting opportunity that works for you. The benefits are clear, and the reasons are endless – what is your motivation to plant a tree?