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We need to give more respect to trees

Downtown

Submitted photo The bright colors of gingko trees brighten up downtown Salisbury.

By Mark Martin

City of Salisbury ISA Arborist

How important are trees?

Take in a deep breath and let it out. Trees helped make that oxygen possible. The carbon dioxide you exhaled helped trees grow.

If you think about it, trees give us so much that our very existence on this planet is due to their help.

Can you imagine life without trees and the products they provide? Look at how many building projects — from the great pyramids to the small frontier cabin, the great ships to the small dugout — were possible because of trees.

What would this country do without telephone poles or paper? Do you think the railroad was built on steel? Well, the ties under that steel are wood, and even the coal came from plants long ago. The list goes on and on.

Do you like fresh pecan pie and a cup of coffee? Or how about that old saying “baseball and apple pie”? All from trees. No baseball without a bat, right?

I guess I’m being a little selfish thinking only of humans. I think other creatures on this planet depend on trees for food and shelter — birds, bees and squirrels, to name a few.

So what else do trees do? They hold the ground together to keep erosion at bay, they slow the wind with their canopy, and they provide shade to reduce heat and heating costs. Without trees, it would be noisy and the world would look very plain. Just spend some time in the desert and you’ll know what I mean.

There are more than 23,000 different kinds of trees in the world. Some trees stay green (evergreen) all year long, and some lose their leaves in the fall (deciduous) and put on quite a show of color. Some trees have showy blooms or fragrance; some have beautiful bark.

With all the benefits of trees, you would think we humans would treat them with the reverence and respect that they deserve, right? One million acres of forest are lost to city growth each year. Out of every four urban trees removed, only one is replaced (if that).

So what can be done? Believe it or not, there is a lot of interest in trees and a lot of organizations that can offer help.

The city of Salisbury is a 31-year Tree City USA through the Arbor Day Foundation, a member of the North Carolina Urban Forest Council and International Society of Arboriculture. A great resource is the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, which includes the N.C. Forest Service.

Trees are a natural resource. In order to enjoy the benefits of that resource or any resource, there must be balance, education, management and respect.

“Plant a tree for the future of us all.”

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