April is Arbor Day month, when we are encouraged to plant trees for all the good of people and Earth itself.
Trees take in carbon and breathe out oxygen. One large tree can provide oxygen enough for 10 people for a year. Whether or not trees can mitigate climate change is a controversial topic. But closer to home, there are many benefits, from rehabilitating strip mines to calming our nerves, including:
Trees can increase property values.
Deciduous trees keep your house cooler in summer and allow sun to penetrate your house in winter.
Trees effectively and economically reduce urban heat.
Trees hold hillsides together, prevent erosion, and improve water quality of streams, ponds, rivers and lakes.
Trees can reduce damage from runoff in urban areas.
Trees offer habitat for local wildlife.
Trees improve air quality by filtering out particulates, VOCs and other pollutants.
Thirty years of urban development has resulted in the loss of 600 million trees, so it’s no wonder that urban areas, including Louisville, Lexington and Bowling Green, focus on restoring trees to their cities, sometimes offering rebates or cost share to citizens who plant trees. Outside cities, trees are rehabilitating former coal mines in Eastern Kentucky. In Western Kentucky, reforestation improves water quality in the Mississippi River and decreases wetland flooding.
Because of the good trees can do for people and the earth, and because so many trees have been lost over the last few decades, here are thousands of organizations that support tree planting, with lots of resources that tell you how to plant and care for trees. Now is a good time to plant, and most nurseries, considered agricultural businesses, are open for business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resources for tree planting:
Bernheim Arboretum has assembled a list of tree varieties that are good choices to plant in Kentucky yards and street ways, available here.
A list of trees native to Kentucky starts on page 21 of this document.
If you have children at home, tree planting is a great learning activity for all ages. Here a few additional links for interactive learning.
--Sarah Fritschner, MMO Editor