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The Vital Importance of Trees to the Environment

Updated on October 6, 2021
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John is a long-time poet, short fiction, and article writer. He loves story-telling and also has a Certificate in Permaculture Design.


The importance of trees

Trees are vital for maintaining healthy and vibrant communities and preserving the environment. Planting trees helps make cities clean and green, but protecting established trees is even more important: large mature trees provide many more benefits than smaller sapling trees.

Mature trees capture more carbon, filter more particulate matter to reduce air pollution, capture more stormwater, create shade to reduce the impact of urban heat islands, promote lower energy use, reduce erosion, provide habitat for wildlife, and many other environmental and health benefits.


Trees combat greenhouse gases

Global warming is the result of excess greenhouse gases, created by burning fossil fuels and destroying tropical rainforests. Heat from the sun, reflected back from the earth, is trapped in this thickening layer of gases, causing global temperatures to rise.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major greenhouse gas. Trees absorb CO2, removing and storing the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 40,000 kilometres.

Instead of clearing vast tracts of land for building housing estates, shopping centres, for production of wood and timber products, woodchip, and for agricultural purposes, we need to in fact plant more trees. This in turn will ensure a healthier planet and environment for our children to grow up in.



Death in Paradise

The wattle tree was dead,

Its skeletal form now leafless

Where once a myriad of yellow bloomed.

Stubbornly postponing its fate

For weeks, then months.

Then finally it fell.

Its lifeless trunk

Too heavy to defy gravity any longer

Crashed to Earth.

Blanketing the garden,

Suffocating the pretty flowers.

The chainsaw buzzed

The secateurs snipped.

I felt like a butcher cutting up a carcass.

The tree was dismembered

Piece by piece.


Branches and twigs

Like arms and legs,

And pieces of torso

Of a once living thing,

Loaded onto a trailer,

Taken away for disposal.

And at some later day

When conditions are right,

A mass tree cremation will occur.


Will we celebrate it's life?

Not likely.

Value its contribution?

I doubt it.

Mourn its passing?

It was just a tree,

Like so many others.


Golden Wattle (Acacia Pycnantha)

The "Golden Wattle" brightens the bushlands and roadsides of Australia in late Winter and early Spring. It deserves its place as Australia's floral emblem with its sprays of beautiful yellow flowers often signalling an end to a long dry Winter.

Acacia pycnantha is a small tree, or sometimes a shrub, seldom exceeding eight metres in height. It generates freely, particularly after fire, and frequently grows in dense thickets of spindly understory plants in eucalypt forests where rainfall is between 350 and 1000mm per year.

The large racemes of deep yellow, fluffy flower balls are highly perfumed and are very striking when massed above the glossy green foliage. The bark is extremely valuable for tanning purposes and has been extensively cultivated for that purpose, particularly overseas.

Although it is a magnificent bush specimen in its natural habitat, the "Golden Wattle" does not take kindly to cultivation, growing rapidly but suffering a shortened lifespan and reduced flowering.

(source: A Field Guide to Australian Trees by Ivan Holliday and Ron Hill)


The Melody of a Fallen Tree

© 2014 John Hansen


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