If you’re looking for a motive to care about tree loss, this summer’s record-breaking heat might be it. According to a recent study, trees can decrease summer daytime temperatures by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
But forest cover in the United States cities is shrinking. Research published last month by the US Forest Service found that we lost 37 million trees per year from rural and urban communities over five years. That’s a 1% fall from 2014 to 2019.
David Nowak, a senior US Forest Service scientist, said, “If we continue in this direction, cities will become more polluted, warmer and generally more unhealthy for humans.”
Nowak says several causes our tree cover is declining, including fires, tornadoes, insects, hurricanes, and disease. But the one reason for tree loss that a civilized community can control is sustainable development.
“We see the tree canopy being swapped out for impermeable cover, which means when we look at the pictures, what was there is now replaced with a building or a parking lot,” Nowak said.
More than 85% of the US population lives in cities, and most Americans live in forested regions along the West and East coasts, he says.
The research placed a value on tree loss established on trees’ role in air pollution energy and removal conservation.
The lost value adds up to $96 million annually.
Three benefits trees provide to society:
- Heat Reduction – Trees provide shade for office buildings, roadways, homes, and parks, cooling surface temperatures. They also evaporate and take in water, cooling the air around them.
- Air Pollution Reduction – Trees remove pollutants and absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
- Improved Human Health – Various studies have discovered a link between exposure to nature and better physical and mental health. Even doctors prescribe walks in nature for patients due to evidence that nature exposures lower stress hormones and blood pressure.