Is there anything we take so for granted as we do trees?
They are the lungs of our community. They provide oxygen for us to breathe. They absorb carbon dioxide that we exhale and from acts of combustion and store that carbon, sometimes for millions of years, a very important part of our climate balance.
A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, and can sequester one ton by the time it reaches 40 years old!
Forests act as filters, removing dust and particulates in the air, moving and holding moisture so well that a functioning forest has an impact on local weather patterns. This is most easily observed in lush rainforest settings, where trees transpiring water into the air create rain downwind, and is true to a lesser degree in all forests.
The shade of trees when properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent. The net cooling effect of just one healthy young tree is equivalent to 10 air conditioners operating 20 hours per day.
Our Natural Water Filter
Trees hold moisture in the soil, keeping water tables up and wetlands, ponds, and lakes clean. As buffers along stream corridors they filter runoff, preventing excess nutrients and valuable soil from fouling our waterways. Both water quantity and quality of surface waters, and importantly, our drinking water, are positively impacted in a healthy, functioning forest.
In a single day, a large tree can discharge 100 gallons of water into the air.
Think about the places you love, the places in your core memories where you go to in your mind when you need a break, a refresher, or pick-me-up. Are there trees there? What is the value of that place to you?
Trees engender a sense of place and general wellbeing. Forest habitats offer spiritual fulfillment and wonderful places to enjoy and connect with nature. Community parks alone account for ample spaces for decompression and stress relief, not to mention the power of an ancient, fully functioning forest ecosystem. The health benefits of visiting a forest often go unnoticed or are largely unappreciated. Suffice it to say the economic value of the ecological services healthy forests provide cannot be understated.
A Call for Forest Restoration
The Door Peninsula was entirely forested for thousands of years. Our native forest was an old growth wonderland growing from coast to coast and containing huge trees the likes of which are very rare today.
The many changes brought about by the application of technology and resource consumption have left the surviving patches of forest ecosystems mere shadows of their original majesty, diversity and functionality. The cumulative effects leave these often dislocated ecosystems vulnerable to decline. With such pressures, maintaining the intact remnants of our ancient forests will likely become increasingly difficult. To help connect these islands of biodiversity with critical corridors, we can landscape with native plants and we can plant native trees.
I encourage you to join in the efforts of the Forest Recovery Project, a not-for-profit launched in 2013 to enhance and protect our native forest ecosystems.
This is a hands-on, collaborative effort with existing land stewardship organizations in Door County to support their legacies and ongoing efforts. Lend a hand to plant or donate to the effort. A $50 donation buys almost 100 trees. All donations support restoration efforts on public lands in Door County.
To get involved, email [email protected]. In the meantime, take a deep breath, and thank a tree.