The Truth about Tree Loss in the US and How You Can Help Stop It

We all know that climate change and its rapid progression is something that has been in conversation for a while now. With every new statistic and news story that comes out, concern is increased, along with the desperate want to help fix this problem, or at least ameliorate the cause long enough for generations of life to continue. (At least, we SHOULD all want to be doing something). 


The truth is that climate change is happening in our own backyard. Something that is experiencing rapid loss with too slow of a re-growth is something we see everyday: trees. Last year, a study was published by the US Forest Service that stated the US lost 36 million trees annually over five years. That was a 1% drop from 2009 to 2014. 


There are multiple factors contributing to tree loss, including natural disasters and disease, but the main reason is human development across urban and rural communities in America. This is also packing a big punch in our budget: the loss of money due to this tree loss equates to $96 million in a year. This is due to the air pollution removal and energy conservation efforts. 


It is obvious that trees contribute countless benefits, including providing us oxygen, but it is important to note and remember the environmental benefits that trees contribute by simply existing. The most important to note are heat reduction, air pollution reduction, energy emissions reduction (reducing energy costs by $4 billion!), bettering water quality, protection from UV radiation, and they are necessary for many wildlife habitats. Diversity in animal and plant species is in most part thanks to trees. 

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With all of this in mind, you’re now (hopefully) also desperate to help the trees. Good thing there are simple things you can do that will help improve the problem, even if just a little. The first and easiest thing to do is to care for the trees that are already on your property, and allowing more to grow there. When branches are losing leaves or there is fungi growing, take the initiative to hire an expert to get it looked at, and be sure to be pruning dead branches to ensure a healthy, continual growth. And it’s in your best interest to let the trees grow where you can: it means a cooler (decrease in temperature and also aesthetically) yard or house, and you will have lower energy bills. The one thing that you should NOT do is remove trees when you don’t need to. Trees take 50-100 years to grow, and by killing one and promising to replace it is risky. It is not guaranteed that the new tree will survive or do nearly as well as the existing one. By just doing upkeep on your trees and trimming branches off, they can live longer than even you. 


Trees are vital, they are beautiful, and the world wouldn’t survive without them. Rapid tree loss is scary, and it can go unnoticed without your watchful eye. By doing even small things to help, you can contribute in some way. It is also important to be aware. Don’t let loss like this go past you. It’s important to be an active and engaged citizen when it comes to the climate; the earth depends on it. 

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