BootLeg Betty

Trees add value to our planet

Go Upstate
Trees add value to our planet
By Betty Montgomery, For the Herald-Journal
Jan 11, 2017



“The best friend on earth of man is the tree. When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on earth.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

“The Giving Tree” is the name of a book that I used to read to our children. It teaches you how trees keep giving. In fact, trees never stop giving. They work to improve life in many ways. Trees contribute to our health, to the land where we live, to wildlife, plus so much more. They help stop erosion, help with noise pollution, trap dust and dirt, purify the air we breathe, change carbon dioxide to oxygen, reduce energy consumption and some are used for medical purposes. Landscapes that include trees help relax us and lower our heart rate. Trees are invaluable to us.

For Christmas, I received a beautiful calendar from Davey Tree Company that featured magnificent photos of large trees and tips on how to take care of trees. It reminded me of how fortunate we are to live where trees are in abundance. We sometimes have guest from places where trees do not grow in such large quantity or as tall and stately as ours. They marvel at the beauty of our trees. They remind me of what a wonderful gift we have right at our fingertips.

People who grow trees for commercial use can put a value on trees while others would have a hard time expressing a dollar value. One tree might have lovely flowers in the spring or exquisite colorful leaves in the fall. Others might be shade trees that give us pleasure to sit under in the summer time. Trees add value to our homes and according to a book published by the American Forestry Association, they add 10 percent or more to the value of a home.

Trees properly placed around a building can reduce air conditioning needs in summer. An evergreen tree sited correctly can be used to reduce wind speed and this will help reduce the loss of heat from your home in the winter. A study showed that trees planted in shopping areas are restful, and shoppers tend to linger longer and are inclined to spend more money when they have this relaxed atmosphere in which to shop.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the net cooling effect of a healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating a day. Plus the USDA also says that one acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen which is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.

Trees are a major factor in floodwater control. Trees absorb a vast amount of water that would otherwise erode our hills. Plus their roots also anchor the dirt around them and help slow down storm water. Our mountains are a testimony as to their effectiveness.

Trees also provide important links to the past. A tree planted by Thomas Jefferson has an important historic value. A tree planted at a historic event adds a reminder of the event. Old trees also have importance just because they have lived for a long long time. There is a bristlecone pine located in California that is believed to be almost 5,000 years old. It is in the White Mountains, but the exact location is not published for its protection.

Trees play a vital role in growing a stronger, greener and more beautiful cityscape. It is wonderful how more and more people and groups are taking on planting trees and beautifying our cities. Actress Bette Midler passed an unsightly area when driving her child to school. In 1995, the entertainer decided to do something about this and took on a project to beautify these unsightly areas of New York City by planting trees. Then in 2007, Midler was with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a tree planting of 600 crabapple trees when she announced, “Why should we stop here? We should plant one million trees.” And so she did. Midler, along with the two other groups, planted a million trees in just eight years.

One person can make a difference and Midler certainly took the lead and showed what could be accomplished.

In our community, we also have tree-planting heroes. Former Pacolet Mayor Elaine Harris made a difference on Highway 176 near Pacolet planting willow oaks and crape myrtles with the help of some grants she was able to obtain. Henry Pittman made a difference planting trees with the Men’s Garden Club, planting thousands of trees in the Spartanburg area. Hans Balmer did a major beautification project with Spots of Pride as did Roger Milliken with the Noble Tree Foundation. Plus, there are other heroes that have made a difference.

Each of us can start with a New Year’s resolution to plant a tree or help with the effort. This can be done in your own garden or you can help an organization that has a goal of planting or maintaining trees in your community. Think about the impact that one tree can make. If you reach a roadblock, do not stop there, do as others before you have done and find a way to make a difference. As our area grows and trees are removed to make room for development, do your part to keep our community green and beautiful.

You too can make a difference. Every little bit helps!

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