Celebrating our giant green friends on Love a Tree Day

According to various sources, today, 16 May, is Love a Tree Day. Not an officially sanctioned day like Arbor Day, for example, but any day drawing attention to trees has to be a good thing, right? Also, the problem with Arbor Day is that it’s a localised event, celebrated on different dates around the world, so there’s no single date for us all to get together and sing the praises of the mighty tree.

Until Love a Tree Day, that is.

So, this is a good time to again remind ourselves why we should all really go out every day and hug the trees around us; why we should feed & nurture them; and why we should not let an opportunity go by to plant a tree.

While today is a reminder to love all trees, let's also use it to celebrate the diversity of trees out there. And to remind ourselves of those trees that need particular protection from potential extinction. Pictured here is the beautiful Aloe dichotoma, or quiver tree (kokerboom), indigenous to Southern Africa. Different subspecies of the tree have been rated as 'vulnerable' (A. dichotoma), 'endangered' (A. ramossisima) and 'critically endangered' (A. pillansii) respectively on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (© All Rights Reserved)
While today is a reminder to love all trees, let’s also use it to celebrate the diversity of trees out there. And to remind ourselves of those trees that need particular protection from potential extinction. Pictured here is the beautiful Aloe dichotoma, or quiver tree (kokerboom), indigenous to Southern Africa. Different subspecies of the tree have been rated as ‘vulnerable’ (A. dichotoma), ‘endangered’ (A. ramossisima) and ‘critically endangered’ (A. pillansii) respectively on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
(© All Rights Reserved)

I’m sure you don’t need convincing of the value of trees. They support life by producing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. They release groundwater into the air to help maintain a healthy ecosystem. They help reduce soil erosion and create a soil climate conducive to microorganism growth. Shade trees around buildings can greatly reduce air conditioning costs. Trees are a key provider of food products (fruit, nuts etc) supporting humans and animals. Thousands of products used in daily life are made from wood.

Trees also happen to include some of the oldest, and largest, living organisms on the planet. The giant sequoia tree (Sequoiadendron giganteum), for example, can weigh over 2000 tonnes and live to be older than 3000 years. That is pretty damn impressive, so say the least.

To go into detail about the value and importance of trees would go way beyond the scope of a humble little daily blog post. Suffice to say, they deserve your care, love and respect.

Support local tree planting initiatives. Support your local Arbor Day. Heck, make every day Love a Tree Day.

Forests, nature’s green factories

21 March has been proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as International Day of Forests. On this day, attention falls on the importance of forests of various types, and in various locations around the world. Countries are encouraged to engage in local, national and international efforts to organise activities promoting forests and drawing attention to the role forests play in the environment.

Forests - ensuring a healthy environment for all.(© All Rights Reserved)
Forests – ensuring a healthy environment for all.
(© All Rights Reserved)

As explained on the International Day of Forests website, the importance of forests can hardly be overstated:

  • Rain forests are the world’s biggest producer of oxygen, generating more than 40% of all the oxygen in the world.
  • Beyond oxygen production, forests also regulate the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air.
  • A tree releases almost 10 times more moisture into the atmosphere than the equivalent area of ocean.
  • Forests protect and direct fresh water supply to rivers.
  • Forests house more than 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
  • Thousands of forest plant species are used for medicinal and cultural purposes.
  • Forests provide resilience to natural disasters, helping with soil and water conservation, avalanche control, desertification control and coastal protection.
  • Mangrove forests provide a barrier against tsunamis, cyclones and hurricanes.

The loss of forests through deforestation can have a massive ecological impact:

  • Deforestation tends to result in soil erosion, which in turn leads to rivers becoming silted, reducing the availability of clean water.
  • It is estimated that deforestation could account for the loss of as many as 100 species of fauna and flora a day.

Perhaps most importantly, forests represent a critical component in addressing global climate change. Currently, the world’s forests are estimated to store almost 300 gigatonnes of carbon in their biomass. Deforestation and forest degradation not only erodes the carbon stores, but has already resulted in more than 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If deforestation can be halted, it can have a huge impact, not only ecological but also financial. According to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (2006), halving greenhouse gas emissions can save the world more than $3.5 trillion between 2010 and 2050.

While deforestation feels like one of those ‘big issues’ that are almost too big to do something about as an individual, this needn’t be the case. We can all do our bit, even if it’s something as small as talking about the issue, planting a tree, or joining/supporting a local forest rejuvenation group or initiative. Just as a massive forest grows from tiny, individual trees, huge impacts can flow from humble, individual actions.