Thursday, June 15, 2017
Column: The benefits of trees
People linger and shop longer when trees are present. A study suggests that communities with green and well wooded vegetation are often at peace. More of violence seems to happen in desert regions than in well forested regions. Could this explain why the Niger Delta region of Nigeria is getting more restive as a result of destruction on natural habitat of trees and various plants and animal species?
Apartments and offices in wooded areas rent quicker and have a higher occupancy rate. Workers in offices in wooded areas report more productivity and less absenteeism. Property values of landscaped homes are 5 to 15% higher than those of non-landscaped homes and homes are quicker to resell than homes without trees. Trees increase the humidity in the air, help increase ground water recharge, reduce soil erosion and storm water run-off thus reducing the amount of water we consume and the need for new water treatment plant and storm water structures.
A study in Salt Lake City revealed the tree canopy reduced surface runoff by 11.3 million gallons following a 1 inch rain. The feeling of community pride created by trees can help reduce crime. By reducing heating and cooling cost, trees can reduce our dependence on oil and natural gas. By absorbing and deflecting falling rain, trees can reduce the severity of floods. By reducing carbon dioxide, dust and other potentially harm gasses in the air; our air quality is improved through lower levels of ozone, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. Trees make communities livable for people and their activities. People walk and jog more on streets with trees; children and adults have a cool place to play or relax in the summer, thus increasing their interaction with neighbors. Wildlife use trees for food, shelter, nesting, and mating. These habitats support the incredible variety of living things on the planet, known as biodiversity. By protecting trees, we also save all the other plants and animals they shelter.
Churches, schools, universities and other public institutions should plant a lot of trees. If one must cut down a tree, he or she should have a plan to replace it by planting new ones. No matter how ugly they may look, trees are far better monuments than the metal and cement monuments. I would encourage people who want to plant trees to plant them for dual or multiple purposes. For instance the palm tree and coconut tree provide both shade and food. Their roots are not hostile but they rather help to hold the soil together and by so doing, prevent erosion and leaching. If you have space in your plot of land, please make rooms for trees instead of casting the entire compound with cement. Make a habit of planting fruit bearing trees like pawpaw, soursop and orange. Their roots are not hostile to the walls of the house. Deliberate efforts should also be made to maintain the trees by applying farm yard manure or urea fertilizer to them annually.
Governments, autonomous communities should create buffer zones that are protected with trees. There is a wooded place I went to in Owerri Municipality of Imo State, Nigeria; I saw monkeys and other tree climbing animals moving freely. It gave me so much joy and for days I felt like my system had been detoxified. I would not mention the name of the place for fear of poachers or E.Ps (Enemies of Progress).
Our tree planting effort should not just be in the short run. It should be in the long run. Trees left to live for more than fifty years are evidences of a responsible past. Trees could serve as financial investments for the future generation. Imagine the wealth that would be unlocked for the upcoming generation if a company, institution, or individual decides to plant and maintain teak trees or iroko trees whose wood would be of millions of Naira in the next fifty years. Think future, think trees! Why not plant one today!