Why Trees Matter

The latest National Geographic magazine had an article entitled “Why Birds Matter”. Birds do matter. But don’t trees also matter in much the same way? Like birds, trees are essential to our environment and beautiful to look at.

Trees are valuable for our well-being. They absorb carbon dioxide and provide oxygen for us to breathe. They cool the air by shading and blocking the wind, therefore conserve energy. They prevent soil erosion. They provide delicious fruit, nuts, plus wood to build our homes and buildings and make our furniture. They increase the value of property. Trees provide habitat for birds and other wild life. Trees are necessary for the life of the planet and our economy.

Most would agree, trees are beautiful. A tree’s presence outside a hospital room has been shown to aid in the patient’s healing. As in Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem…

“I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.”

Trees mark the seasons. When I sit at my desk in my office, I view our huge old honeylocust tree outside the window throughout the seasons… from winter, laden with snow, to spring as the tiny green leaves emerge. Then in summer the tree provides shade while I wait to see the goldfinches that flit around in its branches. And autumn sees the leaves turn golden yellow and then drop.
Living here, many of us use our forests for camping, hiking, recreating. What would we do without trees?

Thomas Jefferson, a tree-lover, said “I never knew the full value of trees. My house is entirely emblossomed in high-plane-trees, with good grass below; and under them I breakfast, dine, write, read, and receive my company.” Jefferson planted 160 species of trees at his home, Monticello, including native, fruit-bearing, and exotic varieties. Another quote of his from later in his life… “Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for posterity.”

Yes, trees are “Priceless”. But, for insurance or appraisal purposes, we are sometimes forced to put a dollar value on trees. Four factors are used to determine a monetary value of a tree–size or age, species, condition, and location. Size is determined simply by measurement but the other three factors are subjective, determined by comparing the tree to a perfect specimen. (See chart)

Trees matter to us and to our environment. As Joyce Kilmer’s poem ends…

“Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”