Where you live or grew up is bound to shape your perspective of trees and nature in general.  You may not necessarily notice them because there are so many, or you may seek out shade and protection of the few that are around.  Whether you are in a rural, suburban, or urban setting, trees play a large role in your environment and function as a living infrastructure for green living.  The benefits of trees are broad and cover environmental, social, communal, and economical areas.  As a result, nurturing, planting, or supporting groups that advocate for trees, is an excellent way to promote sustainability within your community for generations to come.

A basic benefit to trees is that they provide an aesthetic, natural component to our lives.  But beyond that trees can add value to your home (i.e. trees are factored into home appraisals and tend to appreciate in value as they mature), help to cool your home as well as neighborhood, and provide protection from winds.  Trees alter the climate you live in by improving air quality, supporting water conservation, reducing energy demand, and attracting birds and wildlife.

The green living benefits to air quality cannot be emphasized enough – trees absorb carbon dioxide, and in turn produce oxygen.  They also absorb other pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide.  The leaves of trees and bushes also function to remove dust and particulates from the air.  The benefits to water management should be emphasized as well.  Trees can help with water absorption (avoiding flooding) as well as help to purify the water on the way down by catching certain pollutants.

So plant a tree or some shrubs!  Either on your own property or organize a group.  Schools, churches, or community centers are a great place to organize a planting event that often offers access to land and eager volunteers to help with the planting and nurturing.  If that is not an option, support non-profits or groups that advocate for trees and urban forests.

Wondering what kind of tree to add to your landscape?  The Colorado State Forest Service has a great downloadable guide to Trees for Conservation.Want to identify tree species on the go?  There’s a smartphone app for that: Leafsnap.

 

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