Why Trees Matter – NYTimes.com

12 Apr

Trees are dying, in large numbers; we’re killing them. But we know relatively little about the roles trees and forests play in sustaining the world. What we are learning suggests that, in killing trees, we are further endangering ourselves.

… what trees do is essential though often not obvious. Decades ago, Katsuhiko Matsunaga, a marine chemist at Hokkaido University in Japan, discovered that when tree leaves decompose, they leach acids into the ocean that help fertilize plankton. When plankton thrive, so does the rest of the food chain. In a campaign called Forests Are Lovers of the Sea, fishermen have replanted forests along coasts and rivers to bring back fish and oyster stocks. And they have returned.

Trees are nature’s water filters, capable of cleaning up the most toxic wastes, including explosives, solvents and organic wastes, largely through a dense community of microbes around the tree’s roots that clean water in exchange for nutrients, a process known as phytoremediation. Tree leaves also filter air pollution. A 2008 study by researchers at Columbia University found that more trees in urban neighborhoods correlate with a lower incidence of asthma.

In Japan, researchers have long studied what they call “forest bathing.” A walk in the woods, they say, reduces the level of stress chemicals in the body and increases natural killer cells in the immune system, which fight tumors and viruses. Studies in inner cities show that anxiety, depression and even crime are lower in a landscaped environment.

Trees also release vast clouds of beneficial chemicals. On a large scale, some of these aerosols appear to help regulate the climate; others are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral.

via Why Trees Matter – NYTimes.com.

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3 Responses to “Why Trees Matter – NYTimes.com”

  1. hermanchad April 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    How obvious. How simply obvious and so often obviously ignored. i speak to hundreds of people about taking the things they care about the most, and do something about it. This is just the type of cause we should be doing something about, and all the others on your website as well. Thank you for writing this blog…keep it up, and let’s change the world!

    • kubla April 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

      Thanks for you interest and support. Yes! Let’s change the world!

  2. Charlie Keil April 16, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Trees are also good for nesting birds and also for bird sitting and bird sighting by humans.
    Evergreens and oaks and chestnuts that friends helped me plant each spring back in the 1980s are now providing homes for northern harriers and short eared owls south of Batavia and east of Attica. I’ll post about it soon.

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