Growing up, as soon as I’d decided that I loved science and nature, way beyond playing in the garden, pressing flowers and making mud pies, my brother has nicknamed me a tree-hugger, and likely meant every bad connotation of the phrase every time he’s said it. But, here’s the thing, I don’t care. I am a self-confessed tree-hugger. I’ve definitely hugged a tree before, I’ve definitely almost shed a tear when a plant I’ve tried to grow has died, and I’ve definitely experienced that feeling of wonder about how great trees are having climbed 6 feet up one.
Personally, I think everyone should love trees just as much as me, sadly that’s not the case, so here’s a few reasons why I think trees are great, and my hope is that you might just appreciate them too.
1. YOU LITERALLY CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT THEM!
I mean, do you need any more reason than that? Isn’t it so amazing that as independent and self-sufficient we humans are, we actually need another living thing just to perform the most basic of functions for our own survival? The average person needs about 18 mature trees to survive the average lifetime, currently I have one cactus, so I’m hoping the City of London have taken me into their consideration…
2. Trees clean the air
Trees absorb pollutant gases and particulates out of the air by trapping them in their leaves and bark and preventing us from inhaling all the dirt. If you want to get involved in planting some trees in your city, then there’s a great scheme called Trees for Cities where you can volunteer to plant some trees in your area.
3. Trees are calming
The colour green is supposed to be calming and is said to represent tranquility, good luck, energy and health – hence why guests waiting to appear on TV or when filming wait beforehand in a “green room”. As well as being “calming” the colour green doesn’t have as high a glare as other colours so puts less stress on your eyes. Being amongst trees or even having trees in your home/work neighbourhood is also supposed to make you feel more relaxed.
4. Trees are cool
Literally. In summer trees provide shade and in countries where the summer temperatures are around 25-35 °C day after day, places where trees are growing can be around 2-3 °C cooler. To put it into perspective, the evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of 5 average office-sized air conditioners operating almost all day. On the other hand, trees also act as windbreaks increasing local air temperatures compared to open areas where the wind chill might make you reach for the thermostat.
5. Trees are a home
Trees are home to thousands of species internationally, from tiny garden birds here in the UK, to howler monkeys, koalas, jaguars and pandas internationally. Not only do we often need trees for our own homes – wooden beams, floors, banisters, tabletops etc. but many living things need trees simply as they are in order to survive.
The Guardian are currently holding a poll for the public to vote for their favourite tree, so you should take a look at some of Europe’s most popular trees there.
AND, if you want to hear it from the forest itself, listen to Kevin Spacey (it’s awesome, watch it).