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We see trees every day in your life, whether they are in your local park, downtown, in your neighborhood, or when your going for a hike in the woods. We all know they provide oxygen for us to breath. But they provide other benefits as well. However, trees in urban and wildlife environments are under threat, despite the large benefits they provide.
Trees are normally thought of in a wildlife environment, however they are useful outside of that. For example, if Grand Rapids was to build a new apartment complex, the designers and architects would incorporate trees or other foliage into the design.
Maybe its in the parking lot or interior. They do this to block unsightly building or to provide privacy to the tenants living in the apartments, as well as provide color and contrast to the urban place setting. The aesthetic they provide draws in more people. Some may be tourist others may be people that live out in suburbs, the result is the same.
Trees may offer a variety of uses in an urban place setting in terms of aesthetics, but their usefulness goes beyond that. Trees alter the quality of the air by acting natural air removing dust, smoke and fumes from the atmosphere and trapping them on their leaves, branches and trunks. Just 1 hectare of woodland can extract 4 tonnes of dust per year from the atmosphere.
Perhaps you live near the highway or near a busy intersection. Noise can be a significant problem. The trees in a city also provide a sound barrier and can dampen noise pollution.
Recent research even suggest it can reduce stress levels in everyday life.
Not everyone agrees with these ideas. Some developers disagree stating that the increase in foliage will cause a lower rate of redevelopment due to the cost associated with planting and removing trees and other greenery. Obviously, they have no idea what they are talking about.
Some developers that screening and shade tree requirements for smaller lots reduce the amount of land that can be used for the development, parking, vehicle movement, building size, and will deter development in older neighborhoods
Even with these benefits that trees provide in urban environments they are still under threat. Pavement and other types of ground cover that aren’t suitable for trees to live in are increasing at about 167,000 acres per a year. Scientists estimate that between 2009 and 2014, tree cover in the nation’s urban/community areas declined by 0.7 percent, which translates to an estimated 36 million trees, or approximately 175,000 acres of tree cover annually.
Somewhere along the line there is a disconnect between the benefits trees provide and people planning or designing urban communities. We need to stop this downward trend not only for the sake of ourselves but for the sake of future generations. Those that will be on this planet in the future won’t be able to call this planet home if this trend continues.
We’ve established that in terms of urban environments trees are important to human beings. Forests however benefit mankind in a much larger scale. Global warming is hot topic of debate now. Most people have heard of it. Global warming is the idea that greenhouse gases especially carbon dioxide are causing climate change. “Carbon sequestration, a process where CO2 is pulled from the atmosphere and stored for a long period of time, may be one way to slow or reverse the accumulation of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere.”
When trees engage in this process, they pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store allow it to be stored in several place. Trees store this carbon in the stems, leaves, and the trunk. They then use this carbon to grow. In addition to leaves and stems, trees produce large quantities of roots that contain carbon. Rotting leaves, debris, and soil organisms also contain carbon. In fact, northern forests can sequester twice as much carbon in the soil than aboveground. In the US, forests make up 90% of the US carbon sink and hide away approximately 10% of US CO2 emissions roughly the same as the yearly emissions from 600 million cars. When forests are destroyed, not only is there ability to pull carbon from the atmosphere destroyed but that carbon is released to the atmosphere, accelerating global warming.
Generally, trees and forest are thought about from an environmental aspect. Their reach goes beyond that, especially in developing countries where forests and trees are a big part of national income. National income is an important factor that can contribute to the rate of undernourished and malnutrition throughout the world. Where total of 805 million people are undernourished worldwide and malnutrition affects nearly every country on the planet. (FAO 2012) Forest income account for about a fifth of the annual income for rural households throughout developing countries.
Forest incomes can be diverse, including: the sale of firewood, charcoal, timber, crafts and tree products such as fruits, oils, nuts, medicines, vegetables, employment in forest related industry such as timber, and the sale of agricultural produce produced under agroforestry systems (coffee, cacao, rubber, etc). Agroforestry have been shown to make important contributions to farmer’s income and well-being across a diverse range of settings. Agroforestry is a system of land management where trees and shrubs are grown around or intertwined among the crops or pastures. It has been proven to increase bio diversity as well as reduce erosion and soil fertility loss
We can help preserve these benefits by having businesses move to become deforestation-free, and consumers can make sure businesses know this is a priority. This strategy has produced encouraging progress on deforestation-free palm oil. Strong policies can also play an important role. REDD+, which offers rewards to developing countries for reducing their deforestation rates, is one of the best, most affordable strategies for reducing tropical deforestation. REDD was first negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2005, with the objective of mitigating climate change through reducing net emissions of greenhouse gases through enhanced forest management in developing countries. Most of the key REDD+ decisions were completed by 2013, with the final pieces of the rulebook finished in 2015. On the demand side, the U.S. has used the Lacey Act to close the market for illegally sourced wood. However, these policies require effective implementation and enforcement in order to work.
Currently, inefficiencies in food and farming systems threaten tropical forests by increasing the demand for the drivers of deforestation. To help stop deforestation—and to reduce the heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming—we need to make smart decisions that shift consumption and land use patterns in less wasteful directions.
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