Tale of our Treasured Trees

 

When people think of trees, they typically think of fresh air, shade and birds, but subjects such as environmental justice, community health, crime and property value probably are not at the top of the list, if they’re even on it at all! Urban trees are a critical component of our communities, but tend to go unnoticed as we rush through life … unless we accidently run into them while looking at our phones.

I’ve recently been operating my daily life in a bubble of people who are passionate and work daily with trees, so much so, that I forget that people may have no idea why trees are so important to a community.   More often than not, I find myself defending my position to friends and acquaintances, so I decided to take things to the internet and write this blog on why trees are important.

With a background in environmental biology, I’ve learned how helpful trees can be and the many services they provide, such as reducing storm water runoff (which is very relevant after the major storm we had), sequestering carbon, reducing heat-island effects in cities, providing fresh air and lowering energy bills, thus reducing your utility bill. Dan Burden (Senior Urban Designer), in an article called Urban Street Trees: 22 Benefits wrote that the planting cost of $250-600 for a single street tree returns over $90,000 of direct benefits during the tree’s lifetime. Direct benefits include those mentioned above but does not account for the aesthetic and social benefits that is harder to monetize. For these, the Arbor Day Foundation has done a great job of compiling a few statistics. They cited that 83% of realtors believe that mature trees have a strong or moderate impact on the saleability of homes listed under $150,000. The ICMA found that landscaping with trees can also increase property values as much as 20%. A study done at Texas A&M found that 5 minutes of exposure to a tree-setting significantly reduced stress, and another study done by University of Illinois found that areas with urban trees incited less violent and aggressive behavior in people.  Findings like the University of Illinois’, which showed the social benefits of trees, were enough for the city of Chicago to spend $10 million to plant 20,000 trees. The list of indirect and direct benefits can go on for several more pages, but I figured I would keep this blog short!

Taking Root – the “bubble” I’m involved in—educates those interested (and those not so interested if we can) and works to raise awareness of the crisis facing local trees and brings about positive change within the communities. A great example of what can happen when people are inspired is the Make a Difference Day Team. For the past 2 years, various communities have planted hundreds of trees on one day in October and we hope to continue this great tradition. We make more resources and tools available for you to have tree planting events.  We provide mini-grants to communities, partner communities with nurseries, provide workshops and general education on invasive species and other threats and host workshops on the proper way to plant and care for a tree.

We started as a grass roots organization to help local communities plant more trees and now — thanks to our board, staff, volunteers, and donors — we have now achieved 501(c)3 status as a nonprofit organization, but we still need your help! We’re currently trying to close our funding gap so we can continue to aid communities in planting trees and have started a crowd funding site. Every donation provides critical nutrition for us to grow and thrive. This is one “Tree” you shouldn’t be afraid of overwatering.

To donate please go to our Razoo Page!

–Thanks for reading and please feel free to email me your thoughts at nhenger@takingroot.info!

 

Sources:

Urban Street Trees: 22 Benefits

Benefits of Urban Trees, Compiled by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc.  

Arbor Day Foundation