Environmental Benefits of Trees
It pays to plant trees! Look at these amazing environmental benefits of trees:
AIR QUALITY — We breathe cleaner air
—By lowering air temperatures, trees reduce the emission of polluting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from both plants and human sources, like gasoline. When the air is cooler, ozone doesn't form as readily.
—Trees temporarily remove pollution from the air by catching tiny particles on their leaves and branches. Tree leaves also absorb gaseous pollutants.
ENERGY USE — Less demand on coal-fired and nuclear power plants
—Well-placed trees reduce energy used to heat and cool homes and other buildings. Reduced energy demand means less pollution emissions from power plants.
—Strategically placed trees save up to 56% on annual air-conditioning costs.
—Evergreens that block winter winds can save 3% on heating.
STORMWATER REDUCTION — Less polluted water runoff
—By intercepting rainfall on their leaves, stems and bark, trees reduce the amount of stormwater that runs into sewers.
—The U.S. Forest Service estimates 100 mature trees intercept about 250,000 gallons of rainfall per year in their crowns, reducing runoff of polluted stormwater.
CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL — Trap greenhouse gas so the planet stays cooler
—Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it inside their wood.
—Through photosynthesis, trees turn carbon dioxide into fresh oxygen.
HEAT ISLAND EFFECT — Reduce hot spots so people can breathe easier
—The heat island effect occurs in paved areas or areas with lots of buildings. Summer sun and heat gets reflected and intensified, increasing air temperatures and making it hard for people with asthma and other lung disease to breathe.
—Trees reduce the heat island effect by shading concrete, asphalt and other surfaces that normally absorb heat from the sun.
—Trees absorb water from the ground and evaporate it back into the air—called "transpiration." A 48-foot-tall sliver maple can transpire up to 58 gallons of water per hour! In doing so, trees lower nearby air temperatures. This is another way that trees reduce the heat island effect in summertime.
Most facts are summarized from Trees Pay Us Back by the U.S. Forest Service and "The Role of Our Urban Forest in the Chicago Metropolitan Region's Future" by Edith Makra Kusnierz, Community Trees Advocate & John Dwyer, Ph.D., Research Associate, The Morton Arboretum. October 2010.