Plant a Tree, Sink Some Carbon!

Since 1886, Missourians “officially” have counted the first Friday in April as Arbor Day. On a national level it’s the last Friday in April. (Each state picked a date that fit its best time to plant trees.) That pretty much gives you cover to celebrate just about any day in the month as your own private day to plant a tree.

This year, with all the concern for reducing carbon in the atmosphere, you can also consider it your own personal carbon sequestration day. I just looked up “tree facts” on the Missouri Dept. of Conservation website and found this:

“Healthy forests remove about 1.8 pounds of carbon dioxide and release 1.3 pounds of oxygen into the air for each pound of wood produced. One acre of trees can remove 13 tons of dust and gases from the air every year. This means trees actually help clean the air we breathe, helping us live healthier lives.”

Of course there are lots of reasons you might want to plant a tree. They include the beauty trees add to the landscape in fall color or spring blooms, the cooling they provide, the soil they hold in place, the wildlife food and shelter they provide.

Here are a few other facts that jumped out of the list:

“A few well placed trees around a house can reduce winter heating bills anywhere from 10 to 50 percent. Likewise, strategically placed shade trees can reduce air conditioning and cooling costs in summer time by 10 to 50 percent.”

“Water in tree-lined streams is, on average, 10 degrees cooler than non-forested streams. A healthy stream depends on a healthy forest growing on its banks, and tree-lined river banks significantly lessen the impact of flooding.”

One other fact that often gets overlooked in our pleasure with planting. That’s the fact that we need to be able to cut some trees down, too: “Each year the average American uses the equivalent of one large tree about 100 feet tall and 18 inches in diameter for his or her wood and paper needs. All parts of the tree are used to make wood and paper products.” The trick, of course, is to do that in a way that’s in balance with the the other living trees. It’s what sustainability is all about—putting in and taking out.

But this is spring. It’s the time to put a new tree in the ground and celebrate Arbor Day once again.