Written By: Neetha Ann Dooy, Batch: 2019-2022, CMS College, Kottayam, Kerala
"Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish."
― Munia Khan
Trees are the lungs of our planet. They beautify, clean and make our planet our home. Trees support our daily sustenance. We depend on them for food, paper and a plethora of raw materials. Without trees, our planet, as we know it, will undoubtedly perish.
Unfortunately, we humans are enthusiastically accelerating our own demise. Deforestation is raging unabated. The recent Amazon Fires only make the plight of our forests more grotesquely visible. It makes us see what we have done to our once cozy Home. So, it's high time that we put into effective use both our intelligence and our conscience.
Change is only possible if we start at an individual level. And to change our present pitiful state, we all can do something. Something easy yet highly rewarding. The Answer? Plant Trees.
So here are 5 different reasons why we should plant trees :
● Trees cool down its surroundings:
Chilling in the shade of a tree is highly relaxing. It is one of those simple things that make us happy, almost instantly. But do you know how trees actually cool the air?
Trees cool down its surroundings, primarily, through the process of transpiration. It is the process through which water absorbed through the roots is eventually evaporated through the leaves. The water evaporated in gaseous form, cools down the surrounding air.
Planting trees are of special importance in many urban areas. Many urban cities are victimized by what is known as the 'Urban Heat Island Effect'.
When urban areas experience higher temperatures as compared to their surroundings, non-urbanised areas, they are said to fall prey to this effect. This higher temperature is due to the trapping of heat by concrete buildings, bitumen used to construct roads, asphalt, among others.
The Heat Island Effect can be combated by the strategic planting of trees in urban areas. The shade the canopies offer is a real protection for our sweltering cities.
Speaking of which, trees also help in cooling down the temperatures by the shade they provide. The thick canopies reduce the intensity of sunlight absorbed by the surface.
We all know that trees soak up Carbon Dioxide, CO2, through the process of photosynthesis. In turn, they release oxygen. Studies have shown that, during photosynthesis, a mature tree can produce enough oxygen to support two humans!
CO2 is one of the major greenhouse gases, which contribute to Global Warming. Since trees absorb CO2, the greater the number of trees, the lesser the warming. This, in turn, means less melting of polar ice caps, less flooding, and less overall chaos.
So why go for artificial air-conditioning, when you can have the best coolers right in your yard?
● Trees purify the air we breathe:
Thanks to our misuse of revolutionary technologies, we are practically choking. Choking on polluted air. But fear not, trees can work their magic here too.
The air we breathe is polluted with suspended particulate matter and other airborne chemicals. Trees absorb these pollutants, including Nitrogen Oxides, Ammonia, Sulphur Dioxides, and other harmful gases, through the stomatal openings in their leaves.
In addition, trees also trap CO2, another major pollutant. In return, they release Oxygen, thus purifying and refreshing the air we breathe. Therefore, trees serve as natural barriers against the rising levels of Air Pollution.
So set out to plant trees if you wish to breathe green!
● Trees prevent Soil Erosion:
The more the deforestation, the more the soil erosion. With no roots to hold it together, fertile soil is washed away, negatively impacting soil productivity.
The major Erosive Forces are the Wind and the Rain. Strong winds and heavy downpour can erode the soil to a large extent. Planting trees help to counteract the effects of the Erosive Forces.
The widespread root systems of a tree hold together the soil in place, protecting it from the elements. Also, it prevents the compaction of soil, thus allowing water to penetrate more easily. This, in turn, recharges the 'aquifers', preventing scorching droughts.
The foliage or the tree canopy also acts against soil erosion. Thick canopies reduce the intensity of falling water and strong winds, thus preventing soil run-off.
Therefore, it's a safe bet to say that if you want solid ground beneath your feet, we should start planting trees!
● Trees reduce Noise Pollution:
The cacophony of modern life can be stressful. And dangerous, if you look from biological perspectives. Loud noise can increase blood pressure, heartbeats and can also distort our sleep cycles. Also, unpleasant noise has many debilitating psychological effects too.
Trees can help reduce noise pollution, only if planted strategically. A flora barrier of at least 50 feet depth is required to effectively reduce noise. And this should consist of trees, herbs, and shrubs.
Trees reduce noise intensity levels by a process known as attenuation of sound energy. It is the process by which sound intensity levels are decreased. Trees attenuate noise by speeding up the processes of absorbing, refracting and deflecting it.
Trees also reduce noise pollution by creating masking sounds, which are literally music to our ears. The rustling of leaves, the swishing of branches, and the birdsongs combinely mask the high noise levels.
So now you know why natural lullabies are indeed healing!
● Trees make You Happy!
Gazing out at the big ol' trees can trap us in a trance. A kind of heavenly trance. It will calm our frenzied nerves down and let us breathe…
Numerous recent researches show that trees can actually make us happy. Spending time among trees can lower your blood pressure and our pulse rate. It can also lessen the amounts of the stress hormone, cortisol. The calming effects also ward off unhealthy feelings like hostility, anger, over-the-board anxiety and depression.
Studies have also shown that being around trees can make us more 'generous and trusting'. We tend to empathize more with our fellow beings after a short stroll around the forests, studies say.
Another interesting conclusion is that the presence of trees can lower the crime rates in its vicinity. A study conducted in the city of Chicago, USA, found that, with an increase in tree canopy cover, crime rates went down in many categories including assaults, robbery, and narcotics, among others.
So if you are ever feeling down, don't worry, your happiness mantra is standing ramrod in your garden!
With every breath we take, we are forever indebted to the trees. They are our lifelines. And how we treat them in return only shows how lowly humans can be.
Even if you don't feel 'anything' when near trees, you still have the responsibility to take care of them. You may not have physically cut down a tree, but you all are reaping the benefits of illegal deforestation in your everyday life. So it's imperative that we should start planting trees. To save our Home. To save the millions of species all around us. To Save Us.
Trees are treasures. Invaluable. Irreplaceable.
So what are you waiting for? Let's go plant trees!