April 21st, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh
We're big tree lovers here at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture. Yes, we rely on them as natural resources for your furniture but also– Vermonters just have a very personal connection to the forest. Stewardship and sustainability are a part of us.
I happened to catch a great show on PBS the other night called Return to the Forest Where We Live. It focused on our country's urban forests and the vital role they play in the economic health of our cities. Would you believe that about 2400 acres/day are being converted from rural to urban land use in America? Joni Mitchell said this decades ago: when you cut down trees to put up parking lots you end up with trouble.
Now we know that among other problems, deforestation increases the temperature of these formerly rural cities by anywhere from five to ten degrees. And that hot temperature really does have a negative impact. It lowers air quality because hot trees are less healthy and unable to scrub the air of CO2 and pollutants effectively.
Loss of trees in cities also causes flooding, erosion, runoff and water pollution.
Scientist can now quantify the economic benefits of trees in urban areas. City planners are seeing the hard financial facts about the role of green spaces in reducing air pollution, erosion, summer temperatures, storm water problems and smog. They are fighting for budgets to increase urban forests and trees and showing the enormous savings associated with the planting and management of trees. In fact, six million trees provide about $64 million worth of benefits every year. Where else are you going to get a better than 10:1 return on investment?
Trees can make a big difference to the quality of lives in urban areas. They modify the microclimate of our environments, they clean our air, they reduce flooding and rainfall runoff, they protect our soil from erosion. They just contribute to the quality of our environment, and the quality of our life in many, many ways.
So anyway, I just loved this Tree show on Louisiana PBS and I'm going to celebrate Earth Day by planting a tree. You can do so too. If it's not easy to plant one yourself, you can have The Nature Conservancy plant one for you. They'll do it for $1/tree as part of their Plant A Billion Trees Campaign.