Why trees are amazing

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Trees are the longest living species on earth. They are a vital life support system and a source of inspiration for many nature lovers. Planting and protecting trees are two critical actions we can all take to secure a healthy planet for future generations.

Trees also offer a wealth of wisdom about the social intelligence of other species. Scientists are discovering that trees are in constant communication with each other and are actually living very active social lives. Protecting and planting trees is also about honoring the social connections and interdependencies of all life on this planet.

A Silent World of Dynamic Activity

Trees are the foundation of a forest. When we imagine a group of trees, we may think of a big green leafy canopy that sits above a number of thick, tall trunks, standing strong. On the surface, each tree may seem like an independent entity.

However, scientists are increasingly recognizing that trees are constantly sending chemical, hormonal and electrical signals to each other.

Some species of trees, like the birch and the fir, are not discriminating against each other based on species, and are actually helping each other by transferring water, nutrients, and carbon to each other across large distances.

These observations provide insights into the active social lives of trees and the many different forms of exchanges that they share. Trees are inter-dependant, existing in cooperative communities, that help each other to survive harsh conditions and to warn each other of dangers, like attacks from large quantities of caterpillars.

Supporting Other Life Forms

Trees provide a home for many birds, reptiles and mammals. Flowering and fruiting trees are a major food source for bats, birds and insects in urban environments as well as for wildlife in temperate and tropical forests.

Trees form the backbone of the structure of habitats for many species and are also the breeding ground, a place of hibernation and where many animals and birds sleep, play and hunt.

More fundamentally, life in terrestrial eco-systems would not be possible without trees. The leaves and other green parts of trees contain chlorophyll, which is where photosynthesis is taking place. This somewhat magical chemical reaction, turns sunlight into plant energy, while simultaneously transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen, which provides all other life on earth with air to breathe.

Trees are also stabilizing the soil, reducing nutrient run-off, and providing local protection against wind and major weather events. Without trees, planet earth would be a very different place.

Protecting and Planting Trees

For all of the reasons above and more, protecting and planting trees, in both urban and natural environments, are critical steps towards realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Specifically planting trees contributes to Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, Goal 13: Climate Action and Goal 15: Life on Land. Trees are a method of CO2 absorption and provide habitat for many species.

However, trees are much more than that. They are also a dynamic social community that is interacting with each, cooperating, sharing and communicating – in ways that we are only just beginning to understand.

Trees provide insight into the social diversity and intelligence of other life forms on this planet. A deeper understanding of trees can help to unlock a new awareness of their true value that goes beyond only considering human needs and moves into a space of multi-species appreciation.

Trees are also a source of inspiration, displaying solidarity with other species and giving so much – without expecting anything in return.

Kimberley Graham

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