Guest column: Trees enhance everyday lives in many ways

By CATHY PARADISE, guest columnist

Why do we celebrate trees on Arbor Day?

Trees give back to us every day.

For every dollar you spend planting a tree (planting, mulching, pruning and watering) you get back about $2.70 in all kinds of amazing benefits.

Trees remove pollution from the air, valued at $205 million annually.

Trees reduce our energy costs by shading our homes in the summer by $44 million annually.

Trees capture carbon monoxide from the air and store it, valued at $14 million annually.

Here are some other ways trees enhance our lives every day:

Wood is used for building and baseball bats. Trees give us food such as apples and nuts. Trees are involved in products like hairspray and eyeglasses, to mention only a few.

Trees are a renewable, recyclable and carbon-neutral if they are replanted.

They cut down on stress and make us feel good.

Studies show children learn and focus better in a natural environment.

Trees provide emotional and spiritual experiences that are important in people’s lives.

Tree planting programs give residents a stronger sense of community.

Trees increase property value.

Trees trap greenhouse gas so the planet stays cooler.

Air quality is better; we breathe cleaner air.

Well-placed trees can reduce energy needed to heat and cool our homes.

Trees reduce water runoff. This reduces polluted stormwater and soil erosion.

Trees in parking lots reduce the heat island effect by shading concrete, asphalt and other surfaces that absorb the sun’s heat.

Trees provide food, cover, travel corridors and nesting sites for songbirds and other wildlife. Oak acorns, rich in nutrients, are a major food source for many wildlife species.

If a tree had a label of benefit facts, it might read like this:

Serving size

1 million trees, 2-inch caliper


Volunteers: $0

Trees: $250 million

Annual value

Energy conservation: 30 percent less usage

Stormwater: 350 million gallons captured; $ 3.5 million savings

Clean air: 1,000 tons less air pollutants; $5 million savings

Property value: 1 to 10 percent higher; savings varies by location.

Lower crime: 50 percent less violence

Total cost savings: Millions

That gives you an idea of the real value of a tree.

Thinking of a career? How about a green job?

Landscape architect and designer is the fastest growing design profession.

Arborist is a good position for someone right out of high school.

Green roof installation and maintenance is an opportunity that is growing in many areas around the country.

Remember, when you remove a tree, plant two.

Trees will always give back more than we ever give to them. This is a gift for the future.

Information for this column came for the Arbor Day Foundation and the Alliance for Community Trees.


Cathy Paradise is a member of Nashville Tree Board and retired from the Brown County Soil and Water Conservation District.