There are many benefits to planting trees in your neighbourhood. Not only do trees increase a property value and provide a visual mask to unsightly air conditioner units (or pesky neighbours), planting trees also bring people together in an eco-friendly activity. Tree plantings provide an opportunity for community involvement by empowerment that improves the quality of life and a new identity for the neighbourhood. Why not plant some trees …it’s a benefit for the community and the environment!
1) Trees combat the greenhouse effect
Global warming is the result of excess greenhouse gases, created by burning fossil fuels and destroying tropical rainforests. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. Trees absorb CO2, removing and storing the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles.
2) Trees clean the air
Trees provide oxygen, absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particles out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. In one year, an acre of mature trees can provide oxygen for 18 people.
3) Trees conserve energy
Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. By reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.
4) Trees save water
Turn off the sprinklers to water the grass in the hot summer; the shade from trees slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns. Most newly planted trees need only fifteen gallons of water a week. As trees transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture.
5) Trees help prevent soil erosion and water pollution
On hillsides or slopes, trees slow the rain water runoff and hold soil in place. By breaking rainfall, trees allow the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. When mulched, trees act like a sponge that filters water naturally, using it to recharge groundwater supplies and prevent pollutants being carrying into water systems.
The City of Toronto has a tree planting program! Urban Forestry Services plants trees on City owned street allowances fronting residential properties for free. Periodically, Urban Forestry Services will canvass neighbourhoods for tree planting opportunities. Please visit http://www.toronto.ca/trees/tree_planting.htm for more information on residential tree planting and how you can take advantage of the City’s environmental programs.
If you are interested in a tree for your backyard, contact LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests). LEAF is a local non-profit group dedicated to improving Toronto’s urban forest. They offer Toronto residents subsidized backyard tree planting. The service includes on-site advice on appropriate species and planting location, a 1.2 to 1.8m tall native tree and the planting service. Native shrubs are also available. Contact LEAF at 416-413-9244 or on the web at http://www.yourleaf.org/