Coastal Post Online

May 2001

Planting America's Future

By George Cates, Executive Director, National Tree Trust

For years, late April has been a time when Americans have gathered in cities and towns, farms and forests, to improve their health and beautify their communities. They do this for themselves, their children and the generations that will follow them. Neighbors unite to reduce water pollution, improve air quality, save energy, and provide homes for animals. And they've been doing it for nearly 100 years before "Earth Day" was declared.

We must never forget the premier role trees play in the overall health of our nation and our planet. Since 1872, Americans have celebrated Arbor Day as that time to give trees the honor they deserve for many reasons. After all, trees give us:

Medicine - The USDA Forest Service reports 25% of our prescription medicines come from flowering trees.

Money in our pockets - According to research conducted by the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the US Forest Service, strategically planted trees can save up to 20 percent in electricity costs. In addition, walls that are shaded tend be 15 degrees cooler than unshaded walls and direct shade on a roof can make an attic 20 to 40 degrees cooler. In both cases less energy is needed to keep the building cool.

Clean air - The Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington reports a healthy tree, say a 32-foot tall ash tree, can produce about 260 pounds of oxygen annually. Two trees fill the oxygen needs of a person each year.

Clean Water - Trees filter and store pollutants. They reduce storm water runoff which, in turn, reduces erosion of nutrient-rich topsoil.

Increased property value - According to the International Society of Arboriculture, property values of landscaped homes are 5-20% higher than those of non-landscaped homes.

Reduced stress - Studies have shown that people who view nature after stressful situations show reduced physiological stress response.

The National Tree Trust is one of many organizations helping communities help themselves with trees. In the short but proud history of our non-profit organization, we've provided over 8 million trees at no cost to non-profit volunteer tree planting organizations around the country. Some of those trees were given to groups near your community to plant on public lands.

There are thousands of organizations like these around the country. They plant trees, care for trees, and teach others about the importance of trees. Find the one near you. Call them before National Arbor Day on April 27. Spend a day with your family having fun planting a tree. Get your hands dirty while improving your community for your self, your children and their grandchildren. Go back in ten, twenty, thirty years and see the results of your efforts. Gaze upon the difference that you and your family made.

Major General George L. Cates, USMC (Ret.) is Executive Director of the National Tree Trust, a national, non-profit organization established in 1990 with programs to facilitate tree planting and maintenance through volunteer action, and to educate Americans about the importance and value of trees. For more information about its programs, write National Tree Trust, Attn: CM, 1120 G St., NW, Suite 770, Washington, DC 20005. Or call toll-free (800) 846-TREE ext. 16.


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