What can ordinary people do to make a huge difference in the world? What if I were to say that this is something that has the potential to help stop climate change while giving a precious gift to future generations? What would you think of that?
And what if I said that you didn't have to take my word for it! In fact, this wonderful thing that you can do is recommended by the Swiss Institute of Integrative Biology. You can do this activity as part of a community effort, and you can invite family and friends to join you in...
Yes, planting trees. According the the Swiss Institute of Integrative Biology, if one trillion trees are planted worldwide, this could "dramatically reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and significantly help stop global climate change."
How exciting and awesome is that?
Planting trees is truly the gift that keeps giving. Here are five reasons for planting trees, as well as suggestions for the types of trees that you ought to grow.
1. Many places in the world are experiencing serious issues with deforestation, either because of deliberate actions by humans or because of disease, fungus, or invasive species. Here in the town of Grand Island, New York, we have lost many trees, maybe about 45 percent of our trees, to the emerald ash borer. Nearly all of those beautiful trees are now deceased. And that brings up another point. When you plant new trees, you must plant a diversity of native tree species. With a diversity of trees, you don't risk repeating the disaster of losing them all to some opportunistic and invasive insect species like the emerald ash borer.
2. When you plant trees, you are giving a gift to future generations. Not only are you helping to stop the progress of climate change, you are leaving a legacy of you. Your gift will be in the shade that the slow growing trees will provide to future generations. When they sit beneath the shade of those tall, spreading trees, they will hear the voices from today.
3. When you plant trees native to your area, you are helping to make your environment friendly for such pollinators as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and some species of songbirds. Here in Western New York, tree species recommended by Buffalo-Niagara Waterkeeper would include red maple, river birch, eastern redbud, flowering dogwood, American beech, eastern white pine, swamp white oak, pin oak, and American basswood, among many others. On Grand Island, we like planting white oak trees because Grand Island was once covered by them until the nineteeth century, when the overwhelming majority of those grand trees were cut down for ship building.
When you're planting trees, make sure to avoid planting species that are invasive and aggressive. One tree species that was brought to the United States several times is the Callery pear.
Its fruit is inedible for humans, and it is considered to be an ornamental plant. A number of cultivars of this species have been created, including the Bradford pear. It is exceedingly aggressive and long ago escaped cultivation. Its seeds are spread by birds, mostly.
These trees should be removed and then replaced by native species, such as service berry or native sweet crab apple.
4. Planting trees indigenous to your region also will help with water conservation. In many areas, water is a scarce resource. Indigenous trees require less water than non-native trees, which saves on money, time, and water.
5. Planting lots of trees is aesthetically appealing. An area that is devoid of trees is a sad area indeed. This was noted by J. Sterling Morton, a nineteenth century journalist and politician, when he arrived in Nebraska. He saw... no trees. In 1872, he established Arbor Day, which is still celebrated. That first Arbor Day, a million trees were planted in Nebraska.
So why not plant a trillion trees world wide to counteract the effects of climate change, to make a more appealing environment, and to attract pollinators?
What is your favorite type of tree to plant in your community?