Trees are an important part of the earth’s environment. They provide us all with oxygen, improve our air quality and climate, conserve water, preserve soil, and support an abundance of wildlife.
Through the process of photosynthesis, trees absorb surrounding carbon dioxide molecules and, in turn, produce the oxygen we need to breathe. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “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.”
Trees, shrubs, and turf also clean the atmosphere’s air by removing dust and taking in other pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. After trees soak up these toxic chemicals, the rain washes back into the ground.
Trees are able to manipulate climate through the moderation of the effects of the sun, rain, and wind. Leaves take in and filter the sun’s energy, helping to keep things cool in the summer. In cooler weather, trees preserve warmth by providing a shield from harsh wind conditions. They’re also capable of lowering the air temperature by reducing the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect caused by high levels of carbon dioxide.
Trees are essential to the ecosystems they are a part of— both above and underground. Their far-reaching roots help to hold soil in place and fight against its erosion. Additionally, trees soak up and store rainwater, which helps regulate runoff and the sediment deposit after storms. This function ultimately helps to refill groundwater supply, prevents the percolation of harmful chemicals into freshwater streams, and prevents flooding. Lastly, fallen leaves lend themselves to making excellent compost that enriches the soil.