Five years of drought has killed many trees and made others more susceptible to bark beetles. Upwards of 62 million trees died in 2016, according to the United States Forest Service (USFS), which performs aerial surveys of forest land. Since 2010, 102 million trees have died across California, the USFS also reported.
The value of trees appreciates as they age and can be thought of as a living investment. Many things in our world depreciate from day one, but not these beauties. Trees benefit humans in a number of ways – environmentally, aesthetically, economically, and psychologically, according to the International Society of Arboriculture.
Trees are good for the environment because they improve air quality, sequester carbon, and conserve energy. Trees protect their surroundings from the sun and wind, cool the air through transpiration, reduce stormwater runoff and soil erosion, and provide critical habitat for wildlife. Aesthetically, trees add beauty and can be used to screen unwanted views.
Trees can also help with the economy by increasing residential and business property values, thus increasing the tax base for the community. They attract visitors, businesses, and new residents, as well as increase the rental rates of apartments and offices. Properties with more mature trees and greater tree canopy accrue value and sell faster than similar properties without trees. Trees also reduce noise pollution in urban environments. Shoppers and tourists will linger in downtown shopping areas if there is shade and protection from the elements provided by trees. For every $1 spent on urban trees, $2.70 in benefits is returned, according to research by the USFS.
Trees in our neighborhood contribute to the quality of our lives and make our communities more livable. Trees can defer the maintenance on materials degraded by heat, such as pavements. During warm summers, shade from tree canopies reduces interior temperatures, making air conditioning less necessary and helping to lower energy costs for homes and offices.
Trees are good for human well-being. They help reduce stress and mental fatigue, and enhance our mental fitness. Studies show that trees can reduce the psychological precursors to crime and enhance community pride.
As forests in California become more fragmented through urbanization and development, we lose a significant amount of the benefits that forests provide. Trees clean our air by removing carbon dioxide, provide habitat for animal species, and help combat the negative impacts of a changing climate through carbon sequestration. In a period of just one year, one acre of trees can remove 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide or the equivalent of one car driving 8,700 miles. In one year, that same acre of trees produces the amount of oxygen needed by 18 people. Just one tree can produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year, according to Growing Air Foundation.
Planting trees all starts will selecting the right tree for the right location. Planting native tree species is always a good idea and there are many resources online and in the community to help guide you in the decision-making process.
Bear Yuba Land Trust conserves natural resources on private properties and public preserves. We value trees in rural and urban settings and believe that everyone can play a big role in conservation. Come join our noble mission and get involved in protecting land, trees, and wildlife. Together, we can treat each other and the planet with the kindness and respect that we all deserve.
~ Shaun Clarke, Land Access Manager