Lone tree in a field with magnificent sunset

Last week was World Environment Day, the United Nations’ day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. This year’s theme was Air Pollution and asking the world to come together to beat it. Unarguably, air pollution is a complex matter, but also unarguably, the planting of trees is definitely a step in the right direction for improving the quality of the air that we all breathe.

The relationship between trees and air pollution is a complicated one, but with half a football field of forest destroyed every second, we need to understand the impact the loss of trees will have on the quality of our air, and how planting trees will benefit all of us.

Trying to keep this as simple as possible, heat from the earth is trapped in the atmosphere due to high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping gases that prohibit it from releasing the heat into space. This creates a phenomenon known today as the “greenhouse effect.” Trees help by removing CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis to form carbohydrates that are used in plant structure/function and return oxygen back into the atmosphere as a byproduct. Roughly half of the greenhouse effect is caused by CO2. Therefore, trees act as carbon sinks, alleviating the greenhouse effect.Trees in a Forest

In urban areas, trees also reduce the greenhouse effect by shading houses and office buildings. This reduces the need for air conditioning by up to 30 percent which in turn reduces the amount of fossil fuels burned to produce electricity. The combination of CO2 removal from the atmosphere, carbon storage in wood and the cooling effect makes trees extremely efficient tools in fighting the greenhouse effect and thus, air pollution.

Trees also remove gaseous air pollution by uptake via leaf stomata or simply, the leaf pores.  Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and intercept airborne particulates (major health hazards in air pollution) out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. Trees along urban roadways can reduce the presence of fine particulate matter in the atmosphere within a few hundred yards of the roadside verge. All of this scientific jargon basically means that trees reduce the concentration of bad stuff in the air that we breathe

Planting trees remains one of the most cost-effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. If every American family planted one tree, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be reduced by one billion pounds annually. This equates to almost 5 percent of the amount that human activity pumps into the atmosphere each year.

Taken together, there is no doubt that trees provide a net positive benefit to the environment, which is why it is almost uniformly true that neighborhoods with lots of trees command greater housing values than Runner in a tree lined urban parkwaythose without. You can help by planting memorial gift trees and gift trees celebrating milestone events for people or pets. The Gifted Tree makes it easy to do, and with our innovative and amazing presentation certificates, it will show you care, as well as make a difference.  Plant your gift tree to help forests devastated by fire or climate change, and improve the quality of the air we breathe!