The Importance of Trees
By AMWUA Staff
There are many ways to enhance any landscape, but one of the easiest ways to do so is with trees. While planting a tree will make an immediate visual impact because of their beauty, color, and the texture they add, there is also a vast array of benefits that trees bring from social, communal, environmental, and economic perspectives for everyone – residents and our communities as a whole. That’s why the AMWUA cities are committed to the development of urban forests as they understand the important role trees play.
- Trees provide shade and cooling. They reduce temperatures through shade and by transpiring water. One mature tree can produce the same cooling effect as 10 room-sized air conditioners. This becomes an effective tool in reducing urban heat islands and hot spots in cities.
- They help clean the air. Trees filter the air of contaminants and are proven to absorb carbon dioxide, which comprises over 80 percent of greenhouse gases in the US. Planting trees remains one of the cheapest, most cost-effective means of drawing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- Trees can help us save energy. Having plenty of shade trees in your yard can help reduce your energy bill by allowing you to save on air conditioning. Carefully positioned trees can reduce a household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling by up to 25 percent.
- They contribute to our health and provide us with oxygen. Trees breathe in pollutants but then breathe out oxygen. One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.
- Trees help clean our water. Trees serve as natural sponges, collecting and filtering rainfall and releasing it slowly into streams and rivers, and are the most effective land cover for maintenance of water quality. The ability of forests to aid in the filtration of water provides benefits to our health and the health of an ecosystem and can aid in water treatment. Forests provide these benefits by filtering sediments and other pollutants from the water in the soil before it reaches a water source, such as a stream, lake, or river.
As you can see trees offer many benefits, but they also bring value to your home and your community, which is why cities understand the importance of planting and maintaining trees as part of their urban landscapes. Many municipalities, like the City of Phoenix, understand that the benefits outweigh the costs. And AMWUA members including the Town of Gilbert, City of Glendale, City of Mesa, and the City of Scottsdale are other examples of how municipalities have long been dedicated to community forestry and have been named a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor their commitment.
Now that we all have a better understanding of why trees matter, it’s important to select the right ones for your yard and especially ones that are best suited for our desert climate. Like the cities, it is important to incorporate desert-adapted and low-water-use trees to better ensure your trees will thrive while being efficient with water.
Before you do any planting, proper planning is a must. A plan will better ensure you reap all the benefits of adding trees to your landscape. Plus knowing how to properly plant, and care for your investment, including proper watering, is also key for a water-efficient yard.
We can all play a part in creating a beautiful urban forest and collectively enjoy how trees enhance our health, yards, communities, and environment.
For additional information, you can always rely upon the expertise of your local conservation office, and learn more about regional programs such as SRP Shade Tree Program that provides customers up to two free desert-adapted trees (approximately 4-to-6 foot saplings) to plant in energy-saving locations around your home.
For over 50 years, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe, and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit www.amwua.org.
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