Sunday, November 15, 2009
WHY NOT PLANT A TREE?
If you have the chance, why not plant a tree? Trees can make a real difference to the place they are planted. They bring all sorts of benefits. Planting them doesn’t take much time or money. All you need is a site, a seedling and a little knowledge. Your tree will have effects that last and knock-on for years.
One of the best ways to plant trees is through the community – join a programme where the issues of where to plant your tree, what species to choose, where to get the seedlings and how to maintain the tree have all been taken care of. And as a community, we have the chance to plant trees together to create a new environment or rehabilitate a degraded one. Our trees will be synergistic (1+1=more than 2). We can watch them grow over the years and see what wildlife takes up residence while doing our bit to offset our carbon footprint.
We in Malaysia are blessed with a year-round growing season and land which, except for the very tops of mountains, can support trees. Why, we can even plant mangroves in the sea! Come, let us plant some trees! Here are some of the excellent reasons why we should...
1. FOR SHADE
The rays of the midday sun can be pretty powerful. But shade trees not only intercept that energy but use it (for photosynthesis) while letting us keep our cool.
2. FOR WILDLIFE
Animals and birds need food and a place to live. Our wild fig trees provide plentiful fruits in a range of sizes. Leafy tree crowns provide cover. Hornbills nest in holes in tree trunks. Plants, too, grow on trees. Epiphytes (plants growing on another plant) in our highly humid environment include fern species, moss, Pigeon orchids and Entaban. You may find lichens too. Insects will be there. Some ants use epiphytic ferns as their habitat. So all in all, without trees there would be a bit less biodiversity in our environment.
3. TO OFFSET YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
Your carbon footprint is the direct effect your actions and lifestyle have on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions (the fuel you burn in your car; the electricity you use at home etc.) Green plants are factories that convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and water, through photosynthesis, into glucose, releasing oxygen (O2) in the process, Plants synthesise cellulose and other components of wood, locking up the carbon dioxide as long as the wood is not burned or broken down by microbes. Thus trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas implicated in Global Warming so planting trees can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and thus impact Global Warming.
4. TO REDUCE POLLUTION
Trees along busy roads can help absorb traffic noise and catch dust and other pollutants on their leaves, improving our human habitat.
5. TO CREATE A PLEASANT LANDSCAPE
We can create a pleasant landscape from a bare area by planting trees. We can also enjoy the intrinsic beauty of the trees - their shape, size, form, variety, bark, foliage, flowers and fruits.
6. TO REHABILITATE LAND
When forest is cleared the land may remain bare, with exposed soil, grasses and herbs and perhaps some pioneer tree species. We do not normally expect the original type of plant community (same species, same proportions, same age mix) to regenerate in the short term. Planting selected tree species can help rehabilitate badly degraded and cleared areas and influence how plant succession proceeds.
7. FOR POSTERITY
Our predecessors lived among and by the trees. Coastal peoples knew exactly which trees to use for boats, jetties, firewood, fruits, lustrous timber for carvings, medicine and preservatives for fishing nets. Likewise the peoples of the interior had a deep and extensive knowledge of hundreds of different tree species in their area, and their uses. Nowadays the forests continue to diminish and knowledge of the trees becomes ever rarer. One way to make this information available to the next generations is to plant trees. Let us plant tree specimens so that young people recognise our most famous timber trees and see the products our predecessors obtained from the trees around them. This is our heritage.
8. FOR PRODUCTS
Timber for the timber man, fruits for the consumer, forest products for the forest dweller and entrepreneur.
9. TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
One of the best reasons for planting trees is the amazing ‘return on investment’ and the chance to make a mark on the landscape, to come back after years and see it still there, improving the environment; supporting other organisms.