Trees are an essential element of human existence – that much is clear. But every now and then, it’s worth pausing for a moment to fully grasp the reasons why our lives are so closely linked to theirs. In this post, we’ll find out that some of these reasons are obvious, others much less so.
Trees improve the quality of the air we breathe
It may seem trivial, but without trees, our planet’s atmosphere would be very different indeed. Through the process of photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, transforming it and storing it in their tissues as an organic compound. Trees also trap and break down various other air pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen and sulphur oxides and fine particulate matter, which are responsible for a number of respiratory diseases.
Trees are a source of biodiversity
Trees provide food and a home for a multitude of living organisms.
It is estimated that forests are home to around 80% of the world’s biodiversity of plants and animals. The soil abounds with invertebrates and fungi, which contribute to the decomposition of organic matter and soil fertility. Forests are home to 80% of known amphibians and almost 70% of mammals. What’s more, tree canopies provide shelter for more than 7,500 species of birds, not to mention the crucial role that plants play in pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies. In short, trees are bursting with life. 
Trees improve water quality
Trees also play a very important role in the water cycle.
Tree canopies intercept rain, ensuring that it hits the ground with less force. This reduces the leaching of organic matter, which leads to soil depletion and river contamination.
Tree roots also gradually filter water through the soil, replenishing the groundwater and ensuring a steady year-round supply, even in the driest seasons.
For these reasons, planting trees in agricultural settings could be an effective way of preventing water contamination.
Trees provide protection from the elements
Strategic positioning of trees in cities can reduce air temperatures by between 2 and 8 degrees, thereby reducing the “heat island” effect and helping to counteract the effects of global warming in urban centres. 
In the winter months, on the other hand, trees act as windbreaks, reducing the energy expenditure needed to heat homes by up to 20-50%.
This system can also be used in cultivation: planting fast-growing trees provides sensitive plants with shade and shelter from sunlight and wind. 
Trees protect the soil
During heavy rainfall, intense run-off down slopes can cause landslides and mudslides. The presence of trees helps to mitigate this phenomenon by protecting the soil and reducing hydrogeological risk. This is because their roots consolidate the soil, preventing landslides and limiting erosion, while their canopies trap rain, increasing the time it takes for the water to reach the catchment. Furthermore, by storing water, trees strengthen the environment’s resistance to drought and mitigate the risk of fire.
Trees protect against noise
Trees can be used as “green walls” to shield our homes from sound and reduce noise pollution. A study published in the journal Applied Acoustics  claims that a natural barrier formed by a tree-lined embankment can absorb between 70 and 80% of the noise from a busy road.
Conifers, and more specifically larches, are said to be the most efficient noise-absorbing trees due to their perennial canopy and thick, rough bark. 
Trees support the economy
Taking into account direct and indirect employment, the forestry sector globally provides about 45 million jobs and generates a total income of more than $580 billion per year.
Forest products (wood and non-wood) also account for about 20% of income in developing countries with medium to good access to forest resources, and in many they are critical to the survival of local populations.
Trees contribute to human physical and mental well-being
It is now scientifically recognised that not only the outdoors, but also the presence of trees and green spaces contribute to human physical and mental well-being.
Several studies  have shown that a greener environment can reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels and heart rate and greatly improve people’s overall mental and physical health.
What’s more, many of the active ingredients used in the most common medicines derive from forest resources or are synthesised from these substances.
Trees are our historical memory
Once planted, a tree will most likely outlive us and our children, thus representing a lasting legacy for the whole community.
The oldest living tree in the world, which belongs to the species Pinus longaeva, is named Methuselah and is almost 5,000 years old – a true natural monument. 
Planting a tree is easy
Growing plants and vegetables is not always easy: seasonality is a delicate matter, and care has to be taken with species associations, soil type and irrigation. With trees it’s easier: they’re more resilient, they adapt to different soil types and they can be planted at any time of the year when there’s sufficient rainfall.
And if you have no way of planting one yourself, there are those who can help!
With Treedom, you can plant a tree anywhere in the world with just one click. This means you can help the environment and the communities that need it most without even getting off the sofa!