Earth Day 2016 – Trees For The Earth

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Today, April 22, 2016, marks the 46th anniversary of Earth Day. The theme for this year is ‘Trees for the Earth,’ which emphasises the important functions of trees to the environment. It also highlights the work that the Earth Day Network has been doing in countries across six continents around the world, which includes using sapling and seed distribution, urban forestry, agroforestry, and tree care training, to empower rural and urban people alike to conserve, repair, and restore tree cover to their lands.

Trees reverse the impacts of land degradation. They provide food, energy, and income. Trees help communities achieve long-term economic and environmental sustainability. They filter the air and help stave off the effects of climate change both globally and locally. They are a natural, resilient, and long-lasting safety buffer to extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and blizzards. And the longer the trees/forests grow and stay in place, the more powerful these protections become. Here are some facts about trees:

  1. Trees help our soil remain healthy by reducing soil erosion and by creating a soil climate suitable for microorganism to grow.
  2. There are more than 23,000 different kinds of trees in the world.
  3. Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 per cent.
  4. A mature tree removes almost 70 times more pollution than a newly planted tree.
  5. A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year. That means two mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four.
  6. A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and can sequester 1 ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.
  7. Trees can be male, female, or both.
  8. Some trees produce a bitter chemicals to ward off herbivorous animals and insects.
  9. Evergreen trees are green year round because they do not lose all of their leaves in one season. However, most will lose some of their oldest leaves just before they produce new ones in the spring.
  10. Wood is a highly organized arrangement of living, dying, and dead cells.
  11. More than 5,000 products are made from trees. These include furniture, housing material, paper and food additives.
  12. A healthy tree can increase your property value by as much as 27 per cent while trees with dead branches, hollow cavities and other problems can decrease your property value.
  13. Trees are the largest living organisms on earth:
    • Some coastal redwoods are more than 360 feet tall
    • Some swamp ash trees are almost 300 feet tall
    • Giant sequoia trees can weigh over 2000 tons (4 million pounds)
    • It can take 10 minutes to walk around the crown of a giant banyon tree in Kolkata
  14. Trees are some of the oldest living organism on earth:
    • Live oaks can live to be over 500 years
    • Many giant sequoia trees are 2,500 years old
    • Some bristlecone pines are thought to be over 5000 years old.
  15. Trees grown in city conditions often do not live as long as trees grown in their natural wooded environment – an average of 13 years or less.
  16. The age of a tree can be determined by the number of growth rings. The size of the growth ring is determined in part by environmental conditions – temperature, water availability.
  17. Trees do not grow beyond their ability to support themselves. During periods of stress they shed leaves, flowers, fruit and/or branches.
  18. The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Trees and vegetation that directly shade buildings decrease demand for air conditioning.
  19. The Blue Mahoe, Jamaica’s national tree, is indigenous to the country. It grows quite rapidly, often attaining 20m (66ft) or more in height. In wetter districts, it will grow in a wide range of elevations, up to 1200m (4000 ft) and is often used in reforestation efforts.
  20. A gum obtained from the resin of the lignum vitae tree was once regarded as a purgative, which was exported to Europe from the early 16th century as a remedy (combined with mercury) for syphillis and has also been used as a remedy for gout.
  21. Lignum vitae wood was once used as propeller shaft bearings in nearly all the ships sailing the ‘Seven Seas.’