April 25th was Arbor Day

Arbor Day is a holiday to encourage the planting of public trees. It originated in Nebraska in 1872, and today, every state and many other countries around the world have their own Arbor Day celebrations. While everyone loves some shade and a greener city, what’s really so important about trees?

For one, trees are an essential component of most environments, providing a direct home to thousands of species of other plants and animals, and producing nutrients to support thousands more. Trees take in CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and prevent erosion and desertification by reinforcing soil with their roots. And as long as we build houses, furniture, toys, and many other things out of wood and wood products, preserving healthy forests is necessary to maintain our human comforts. In America, a long history of forest management protecting forested land means that the forests here are fairly healthy. But, around the world deforestation continues to be a major problem, especially in the rainforests of the Amazon. With human populations increasing, more and more forests are being cleared to make room for homes, roads, and farms, or the trees are cut for lumber.

Arbor Day provides us with a time to recognize the often overlooked challenges facing forests around the world, as well as making our communities a little greener. The day’s goal is to plant trees. But if you aren’t able to take that step, consider other helpful actions:  recycling paper or buying products made from recycled paper, reducing meat consumption or plastic use (both often come from deforested land), donating to organizations that preserve forest areas, or even just talking to others about the value of keeping our forests healthy. So, what action did you take this Arbor Day to help out the forests that do so much for us?