Trees clean the air, soil and water, making the earth a livable place. They are so integral to human well being that just living close to trees makes us healthier and happier.
If you want to save trees, you can help by protecting those that grow in your own neighborhood, and planting more when you see trees cut down.
If you’re truly passionate about saving trees, consider getting involved in an organization working to save the world’s remaining forests.
1. Learn how trees affect your home. Aside from desert regions, most areas benefit from having plenty of large, shady trees in every neighborhood. They improve air quality, reduce erosion and absorb noise. Big trees protect cities from getting too hot by cooling the environment through shade and evaporation. Without trees, urban areas experience what's called a heat island effect, with streets and buildings retaining heat and forcing people to use extra power to cool their homes. No matter where you live, you can start helping your town right away by saving trees.
- As a general rule, large, mature trees (like oak or maple) provide more benefits than small, young trees. That's why it's important to save as many older trees as possible.
- Learning about proper tree maintenance will help you become a better advocate for trees. There's a right way and a wrong way to prune trees and take care of them over the years, and if you know the difference you can educate people around you.
2. Find out about local ordinances regarding tree protection. Every town and city has laws dictating which tree species need to be protected and when and how it's OK to cut down trees. In some areas, trees that are delicate, rare or extremely beneficial are protected by law. Knowing the laws in your area will help you be a better advocate for the trees there.
- Get in touch with the city department in charge of tree removal. The department is usually called urban or community forestry. See if they have information on policies they use to determine which trees to cut down.
3. Get involved when you see a tree coming down. As you become more aware of the specific trees that are beneficial in your area, start noticing when you see them being pruned or cut down. Whether the tree in question is on public or private property, there may be something you can do to save it. Pay special attention to the large, shady trees in your area, since they provide the most benefits and should be preserved if at all possible.
- When you see a tree getting cut down, the first thing to do is talk to the person removing the tree and find out why they are removing it. Sometimes trees are damaged or diseased, so they legitimately need to be cut down. In other cases, they get cut down simply for aesthetic reasons.
- Do research to find out if the tree is being cut down legally. Some species are protected even if they're on private property. If you're concerned that the tree should be preserved, it's time to take action.
4. Do what you can to save the tree. Speak up to save the tree, rather than just letting it get cut down. Get together with other people who care about saving trees in your area and make it clear that you object to cutting down healthy trees. Even if there's no law against cutting down the tree, if enough people think trees are important and need to be protected, you might be able to create change. Even if it's too late for this particular tree, you'll set a precedent for next time. Here are a few things you can do:
- Write a letter of objection to your city forester or city council member.
- Start a petition to change policies or protect certain trees. Rally neighbors to get involved in saving the neighborhood trees.
- Get the media involved by sending a letter to the editor or contacting a local TV station.
5. Participate in planting days. As important as it is to protect mature trees, it's also essential to think ahead and plant new trees that will eventually get tall enough to contribute to the canopy, clean the air and help keep temperatures cool. Many towns and cities have organizations like Portland, Oregon's Friends of Trees working to plant trees in areas that have too few. If your town or city doesn't have a similar organization, why not start one yourself? Tree by tree, you can make a difference.
- The type of tree you plant matters. Talk with an arborist about which species are native to your area and will eventually get big enough to clean the air and water. Small, ornamental trees won't contribute much.
- Buying trees can get expensive. See if there's a nursery nearby that shares your views on trees and could give your group a discount on baby trees.