Timber is a green, carbon-neutral and renewable source of building material and energy, providing employment in rural areas. Trees reduce global warming, and consequent climate change, by absorbing greenhouse gases. A single tree will absorb more CO2 than would be produced by a car travelling to Beijing and back!
Trees and hedgerows give form and character to our rural and urban areas. They help developments blend into the landscape and their shelter can lower heating bills and reduce structural storm damage. Surrounding trees have been found to increase resale values by more than 15%.
Trees support many other life forms (biodiversity), retaining ecological balance. A balanced ecology reduces the need for artificial insecticides and pesticides. Nature maintains its own balance between diners and dinner.
Trees in wide, tall and diverse hedgerows are particularly valuable as a linking corridor between different habitats. They are important seed banks for native tree species.
A society grows great when men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in
Groundwater quality is better where tree roots act as filters, minimising pesticide contamination of waterways.
Riverbank woodland prevents soil erosion.
Hedgerows are cheaper, longer lasting and more effective form of stock control than wire fencing. They act as windbreaks, reducing wind speeds by up to 50%. Evaporation can drop by up to 30%. Stock require less calories to maintain body temperature, improving animal health.
Trees result in higher soil and air temperatures, improving growth by up to 15%. Crops surrounded by trees will be healthier and require fewer insecticides. This is because the birds, bats and other animals living in those trees eat the insects that carry crop disease. A bird or bat can eat up to 3500 midges in 2 hours!
Linear woodlands assist in disease control between farms.
Some trees have historical, religious and other local value, such as marking ancient townland boundaries.
Trees are important in all our lives. Wedding photographers can’t resist a good tree as a backdrop. Forest and woodland walks appeal to locals and tourists.
Researchers believe that a single tree living for 50 years contributes about €250,000 to the community during its lifetime. As well as the factors listed, this includes providing oxygen, recycling water, regulating humidity, controlling air pollution, producing protein and fertilising the soil.
Ireland has the dubious honour of being the least wooded country in Europe. We should all leave something behind so that the next generation will be spared this indignity. It couldn’t be easier. We only have to plant some saplings or decide to use an existing hedgerow rather than root it out for a wire fence.