Why Urban Trees are Important

 

Majestic stands of Live Oak trees once thrived on Alameda, along with willows and other species. Development and the passage of time have taken many historic trees, but some remain and many have been replaced, as Alameda values its urban forest. Designated a Tree City USA in 2011, Alameda protects its oaks and other heritage trees by restricting their removal. 
But more trees are needed. Adding trees to Alameda and protecting current trees improves our environment and our well-being: 

  • Trees help mitigate climate change. Urban trees store carbon within their tissues and reduce carbon emissions from power plants by reducing energy use in buildings. Urban trees in the contiguous United States directly store 770 million tons of carbon. When planted near buildings, trees can cut air conditioning use by 30 percent, and, according to the UN Urban Forestry office, reduce heating energy use by a further 20 to 50 percent. One large tree can absorb 150 kilograms of carbon dioxide a year. 
  • Trees improve air quality. Large trees are excellent filters for urban pollutants and fine particulates. They absorb pollutant gases (such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone and sulfur oxides) and filter fine particulates such as dust, dirt or smoke out of the air by trapping them on leaves and bark. The USDA reports that urban trees in the contiguous U.S. remove 784,000 tons of air pollution annually. 
  • Trees help animals. Trees play an important role in increasing urban biodiversity, providing animals (birds and more) with a favorable habitat, food and protection.
  • Trees improve human health. Living in close proximity to urban green spaces and having access to them have been shown to improve physical and mental health, for example, by decreasing high blood pressure and stress. Research even suggests that people are less violent when they live near trees. 
  • Fruit trees provide food. Once a fruit tree becomes mature, it should produce more than enough of that kind of fruit for one family, improving food security, reducing food costs and providing delicious healthy food. 

So, plant a tree today. Because rain comes to us in the winter and our climate is moderate, winter is a great time to plant a new tree. Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) and the Alameda Sun are sponsoring Project Tree — Phase 2 starting later this month. 

Later in January, check the Sun and ABG’s website for more details about how to get a great discount on a tree from an Alameda nursery and learn the basics of tree planting and care. 

 

ABG is a network of gardeners in Alameda interested in growing food and donating fresh produce to neighbors who face food insecurity. Find the schedule for ABG’s monthly education meetings at www.alamedabackyardgrowers.com.