In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and sharing love to those around us, our programs team has compiled ten reasons why they love trees so much. Given that trees are all around us, we thought it necessary to remind you to spread your love to them as well, for these reasons:
1. Trees provide a place to call home
Trees are fascinating organisms. They encourage the biodiversity of ecosystems providing habitats to many organisms, among other things. They also maintain various types of biological relationships, including commensalism interaction with epiphytic lichens and symbiotic interaction with some mycorrhizal fungi. They also offer a whole range of wildlife habitats.
2. Trees give us a sense of beauty
From the Douglas fir-dominated, old-growth forests of the West Coast to the Acadian forests of the East Coast, Canada has a large variety of tree species and forest types. It is estimated that there are 140 trees native to Canada. This vast amount of biodiversity adds a sense of beauty to our yards, streets and landscapes. Additionally, in Canada we get to experience the glory of our trees in four seasons: their fragrant blooms in the spring, their soothing greens in the summer, their captivating colors in the fall, and blankets of snow-covered trees in the winter.
3. Trees are a living history
Trees endure. As most trees easily surpass the average lifespan of a human, they are important markers of time and of memories for us. The growth of a seedling into a mature tree allows us to reflect on the passage of time, and the sight of a stump can likewise trigger nostalgia for what once was. Beyond human life, trees also record the story of their own environment. Stressful events such as drought, fire, and heavy rainfall are marked in the rings of the trunk and branches, and changes in soil health will be reflected in the growth and stature of the tree.
4. Trees are a long-time carbon storage
Not only do trees sequester carbon from the atmosphere when they’re alive and growing, but they can continue to store the carbon long-term even after they’re harvested. Harvested Wood Products (HWPs), such as furniture, plywood, paper and paper-based products, will store carbon right up until they are burned or decay, after which they release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. Under the new Paris Agreement for Climate Change Mitigation, HWP carbon pools are being reported as part of Nationally Determined Contributions for greenhouse gas reductions.
5. Trees provide food and medicine
Trees provide several types of interesting resources. Among their various offerings, food is a significant resource. Trees produce fruit and nuts, which are a source of nutritive elements for wildlife and humans. Some shrub species also produce medicinal substances such as the Canada yew which is used to treat some types of cancers.
6. Trees can save us money
Like a prize in a box of cereal, trees seem to give more than what is on the label. On top of everything they already give us and the natural world, they seem to also give a little bonus to our pocketbooks. Shading our houses in summer, providing a wind break in winter, or just making a place more desirable, properly planned and cared for urban trees give back more than they cost.
7. Trees make us happy and healthy
Spending time with trees and in forests is just plain good for us, as the growing body of scientific research shows. Compared to walking in an urban environment, research has demonstrated that walking in a forest can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression, increase vigor, decrease cortisol levels, and increase the ability to recover from stress. Given that stress also inhibits our immune system, the stress-reduction benefits of being in a forest are even further magnified – which is something we all need right now.
8. Trees show us how to be resilient and adaptable
What’s more resilient than a tree? You’ll often see them in rocky outcrops and wonder how they survive there. These trees expand their root network far and wide to find water and nutrition, often through symbiosis with fungi and algae that are also found living in the rocks. The trees who do survive in these conditions often live decades longer than trees growing in typical conditions. Since there is little to no competition from other plants, their size tends to be dwarfed and they are less prone to blowdown from wind or other extreme weather events.
9. Trees are part of our identity
Trees are a huge part of our identity as Canadians; we even have a maple leaf on our flag! Did you know that each province and territory have an arboreal emblem that represents the natural and cultural heritage of that area? Next time you enjoy maple syrup remember to appreciate our magnificent national tree.
10. Trees show us we’re part of something bigger
It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, there are trees. They live in our cities, our rural areas and are essential to the great wilderness areas that make up our planet. They are an integral part of ecosystems showing how intricately connected all parts of it are, and how intricately connected we are to each of those parts. Our survival and well-being depend on them, and without them, like a great love, our lives would not be as rich.