Importance of Trees and Effects of Global Warming

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Global warming is affecting California in many ways, such as poor air quality, diminishing water supplies, and more importantly forest fires. These conditions are linked because diminishing water supplies lead to trees not getting enough water. Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry states that “Trees depend on the moisture to maintain the sap that enables their immune system. With the moisture diminished, so is the sap and that stresses the trees” (Rainey, 2019). When the trees dry out they can easily catch fire from the California heat. When the trees burn they emit smoke that ruins the air quality. Because of the fires, a lot of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere which makes global warming worse. The research suggests that one way to prevent global warming is by replanting trees in forests and communities that have been affected by fires. California is the most fire-prone state in the U.S and by replanting trees after a fire, the ecosystem can be restored to a more normal state faster. Based on a news article taken from NBC, “Between 2010 and 2014, California forests lost an average of 2.2 million trees annually” (Rainey, 2019). The number of trees that were lost is enormous and since we partly rely on trees for oxygen, we need to plant more trees.

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One way to address the problem of tree loss is with the help of the Arbor Day Foundation. There is a non-profit organization called the Arbor Day Foundation, which is the world’s largest non-profit organization for replanting trees. Arbor Day Foundation was founded in 1972 and they have many programs such as Community Tree Recovery, Tree City USA, and Rainforest Rescue that specialize in the actual planting of trees. The mission of the foundation is “to make the world greener and healthier today, and for generations to come.” To accomplish this goal Arbor Day Foundation has many programs to inform the public about the importance of trees, and programs to help the world be a greener place by replanting trees where needed. They also have educational programs called Tree Campus USA, Tree Campus K-12, and Tree Campus Healthcare which concentrate on educating the public about global warming issues and the importance of trees. Within the time span of 43 years, the Arbor Day Foundation has planted over 250 million trees around the world. In the year 2015, their 50 millionth tree was planted. Arbor Day Foundation has many programs, but the one that California needs for tree replanting is called Community Tree Recovery.

Arbor Day Foundation created the Community Tree Recovery program in 2005 out of the need for trees after Hurricane Katrina. Their job is to replant trees in areas that have been affected by natural disasters, to bring back wildlife much faster. The residents who have lost trees in natural disasters are given free trees to plant in their backyards “re-establishing neighborhood trees as well as a sense of community.” Besides the residents, other community members and organizations help out with the planting of trees. Through this program, Arbor Day partners with schools, local businesses, other non-profit organizations, YMCAs, Boys and Girls Club, Scouts, the city, and many more. Bringing all these partners together creates a sense of community as they work together and plant trees for the neighborhood. During this process, new bonds are created and the community becomes not only greener but also stronger.

After replanting trees in the Gulf Coast, the program grew quickly because of its success and started helping places in need of new trees because of natural disasters across the country and the world. More than 5 million trees have been planted through the Community Tree Recovery program. Although the Arbor Day Foundation is the world's largest non-profit tree-planting organization, their Community Tree Recovery program is not currently in California. What I am proposing is for the state of California to contact this organization to merge their resources so that California has a better system for replanting trees. This will drastically help California recover much faster from forest fires. California is the most fire-prone state in the United States and has lost 1.8 million acres to over 8000 wildfires in 2018 alone. This just goes to show that we should really consider teaming up with this organization to keep the state’s agriculture alive and well.

Trees are important to the environment because they produce oxygen, prevent natural disasters, being home to many animals, and prevent climate change. Trees soak up harmful pollutants like a sponge and release clean oxygen for us to breath. Some of the gases trees absorb are Ammonia, Sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide. Trees also prevent natural disasters like mudslides and flooding. They prevent mudslides with their roots, the roots of the tree hold the dirt together and prevent it from becoming loose and sliding in the rain. They also prevent flooding by absorbing a lot of the rainwater, because without the roots the ground would over-saturate and flood. One tree can be a home to many animals such as insects, mammals, moss, plants, and fungi. There are 3 types of forests, a young forest, a middle-aged forest, and an old forest. Young “forests occur as a result of fires or logging. Shrubs, grasses, and young trees attract animals like black bears, the American goldfinch, and bluebirds in North America. In middle-aged forests, taller trees begin to outgrow weaker trees and vegetation. An open canopy allows for the growth of ground vegetation preferred by animals like salamanders, elk, and tree frogs.” (OneTreePlanted) Last but not least, “older forests with large trees, a complex canopy, and a highly developed understory of vegetation, old forests provide habitat for an array of animals, including bats, squirrels, and a variety of birds.” (OneTreePlanted) Trees can help bring the temperature of the planet down by taking in greenhouse gasses into their trunks, branches, and leaves. Then they turn those greenhouse gasses into oxygen and release it back to the world. “In cities, trees can reduce the overall temperature by up to eight degrees Celsius. A mature tree can absorb an average of 48 lbs of carbon dioxide per year.” (OneTreePlanted) 

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