TREES–NOT JUST IMPORTANT ON ARBOR DAY

treeby Sheila Dunning, UF/IFAS Extension Agent

Take a breath–thank a tree. Enjoy nature–thank a tree. Save money–plant a tree.

Florida’s Arbor Day is the third Friday in January; this year, that’s January 16th. Nationally, Arbor Day is celebrated every year on the last Friday in April, but each state recognizes the holiday based on the most suitable tree planting season. Florida’s climate in January allows trees to be dormant and easy to transplant with minimal risk of shock. Additionally, the ground is not frozen, so installation doesn’t require intensive labor or heavy equipment.

But trees are critical to our everyday life, not just something we recognize annually. Consider this:

  • Trees are an important component of the natural landscape because of their ability to prevent soil erosion and preserve the integrity of topsoil, as well as slow water runoff, and water, naturally improving water quality.
  • Trees also play an important role in producing oxygen and reducing the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide. One mature tree absorbs carbon dioxide at 48 pounds per year.
  • Trees help people heal faster. Research has proven that individuals recovering from illnesses or injuries recover more quickly when they can view trees and nature from their windows.
  • Trees planted on playgrounds, along walkways and in housing areas decrease ultraviolet exposure, muffle noises and calm people. Studies have shown that neighborhoods with more trees have fewer incidents of violence than communities with fewer trees.
  • Homes landscaped with trees are worth 4 to 15 percent more and sell sooner than homes without trees.
  • Studies have shown that people walking or driving down a street lined with trees are more inclined to spend more time shopping. These patrons are willing to pay up to 12 percent more for goods and services when the atmosphere is enjoyable.
  • Studies have shown that parts of cities without cooling shade from trees can literally be “heat islands,” with temperatures as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit higher than surrounding areas.
  • Trees can lower a household or business’ air-conditioning and heating costs by decreasing energy use. If the right tree is planted in the right place, it can reduce the utility bills by up to 40 percent.

In Northwest Florida, over 30 percent of the trees have been removed due to storms and development. That is the same percentage of trees remaining on the world’s land area.

With Arbor Day fast approaching, now is the time to plant more trees.

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