Saving trees is synonymous to saving our planet. Trees provide food medicines, habitat, absorb bad gases and also maintain the water level.
Close your eyes and imagine the sound of rustling leaves, bird song echoing in a tropical rainforest, branches creaking, and inhale the scent of vegetation and moisture. Do you already feel more relaxed?
Trees are the oldest living guardians of the earth. Witnesses of our planet’s evolution, they represent the majestic bridge between the past, the present, and the future. They also represent nature’s gift to mankind and have always inspired humanity, providing us with powerful metaphors to guide our lives. As depicted by the tree of life symbol, our determination keeps us rooted in challenging times, our ideas blossom, and our resilience ultimately always bears fruit as we grow from our experience and connect with others. Deeply rooted in their wisdom, they observe in silence while providing for other organisms, supporting life on earth.
While these majestic beings positively affect our lives in many different ways, from the air we breathe to the water we drink, we’ve put their very existence in jeopardy.
In this article, we’ll highlight the key role trees play in the ecosystem before deep-diving into how human activity impacts the forests and how we can all act at our individual level in saving trees.
Forests are home to 80% of life on earth. From the depths of their roots to the top of their crowns, they are keeping our planet healthy and our earth alive. Some of the main ecosystem services trees provide include:
Absorbing Carbon and Providing Oxygen
Trees and forests are the most powerful natural barrier against rising toxic carbon and greenhouse gas levels. Indeed, trees have the ability to filter harmful particles and toxic chemicals from the atmosphere, effectively purifying the air and acting as ‘’carbon sinks’’. These natural superheroes can also absorb and store the carbon dioxide we emit as humans and use it to produce nutritious fruit, nuts, healthy leaves to feed other beings and release precious oxygen. In other words, they provide organisms with the fresh air and basic food they require to live. Besides, by sequestering carbon in their trunks, they help mitigate global warming.
The amount of carbon dioxide trees can store depends on the type of tree and the maturation stage, but on average, these fantastic living things can absorb between 2 and 21.77 kgs of Co2 per year. To put things into perspective, a large and mature tree can provide a day’s worth of oxygen for up to four people.
According to the World Health Organization, 9 in 10 people in the world breathe polluted air, thus increasing the risk of stroke and lung cancer and leading to over 7 million deaths every year globally. You probably get it by now; saving trees is critical to our survival as they’re the most effective way to purify our air and produce the oxygen we need.
Stabilizing the Soil:
Trees are a natural barrier against erosion, landslides, and avalanches, as their widespread root systems help to maintain soil stability. Indeed, trees’ root systems tie the soil layers together and give them the structure they need to both absorb and store water on a rainy day. Therefore far-reaching tree roots play a critical role as they prevent the rain from washing away the healthy soil we require to grow food.
Planting trees or saving trees near rivers and critical locations helps prevent soil and land erosion which can have devastating effect with melting of glaciers.
Saving Trees for Fresh Water Supply:
75% of the world’s freshwater supply comes from trees and forests, with 15% coming from the Amazon alone. Indeed, trees play a vital role in the water cycle. As mentioned above, healthy soil acts as a sponge absorbing the rain. Trees then pump water from the soil, which is then transported to the leaves. Evaporation from the tree leaves sends moisture up into the atmosphere, creating clouds and therefore triggering rain. What’s more, not only do trees create rain, but they also guide the water into streams, rivers, lakes, and underground water tables. Therefore, trees are the most efficient way to secure a vital supply of freshwater for drinking and agricultural purposes and to sustain all life on earth.
According to the WWF, about 2 billion rural people, including 60 million indigenous people, depend on trees to survive as forests provide them with shelter, food, water, or a livelihood. Forests are also home to 80% of the terrestrial biodiversity on earth. Therefore, not only do trees provide food and shelter to millions of communities around the world, but saving trees will also help sustain millions of animal species and thriving ecosystems. As an example, a single mature oak can be home to as many as 500 different species of insects, birds, and fungi.
Saving Trees for Medicinal Benefits:
Plants and trees can produce natural medicines and help prevent or cure various common health issues and serious diseases. As an example, 70% of cancer drugs can only be found in rainforests.
Besides, while trees have tremendous benefits for the environment and can provide us with natural medicines, these majestic beings can also help heal people. Whether you’ve suffered rejection, failure, or loss, trees can help you heal. After all, human beings’ brains have developed in the lap of nature for thousands of years.
Indeed, a few studies have revealed that our brains behave differently in the forest. As a result, spending some time surrounded by trees and walking under the tree canopy can help reduce stress, blood pressure, cortisol levels and slow down your heart rate. A stroll in the forest can also help calm and soothe your nerves, alleviate stress, boost self-esteem, and reduce depression. As trees stand tall in the forest, they help you stay grounded and connect with your roots.stress,
Human Activity’s Impact on Forests
While we’ve seen how critical trees are to our planet and to our survival as a species, human beings instead of saving trees have wiped out over 80% of the original forest cover on earth over the last two thousand years. From agriculture and ranching to logging and mining, human-driven deforestation is having devastating consequences on ecosystems, wildlife, weather patterns, and the climate. Tragically, each year, 15 billion trees are lost to deforestation and forest degradation.
Saving Trees from Unplanned Agriculture
Over 136 million acres of the Amazon rainforest (20%) have been lost so far, mainly to agricultural production. Unfortunately, according to a report published by Greenpeace, 80% of the world’s deforestation stems from agricultural production. The reason is simple; the world’s average consumption of meat and vegetable oil per capita has doubled since 1961. As a result, increasing global demand for food and, in particular meat, drives communities in search of a better life, to clear millions of acres of forest for cattle grazing, palm oil, and soybean plantations accelerating deforestation.
Besides, the tree destruction due to land clearing and farming activities leads to the release in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases once trapped in trees and contributes to global warming. It also leads to the degradation of the remaining forest including soil erosion, loss of trees and habitat for millions of species as well the permanent alteration of ecosystems, and the decline of biodiversity.
Saving Trees from Rampant Logging
Timber logging is responsible for approximately 60% of partial forest destruction and habitat degradation, driven by the rising demand for wood and paper products such as toilet paper. Indeed, according to National Geographic, a single person uses an average of 100 rolls of toilet paper every year, and global toilet paper production leads to the daily destruction of 27,000 trees. Unfortunately, the growing trend of luxury, quilted 4-ply tissue, is fuelling the use of virgin forest fiber, contributing to the destruction of old-growth forests such as the Canadian boreal forest. This critical forest covers 270 million hectares and, like many other forests on earth, plays a critical role in protecting our planet by sequestering carbon, purifying air and water, and regulating the climate.
Therefore, in place of saving trees, human beings’ relentless need for economic expansion and comfort is destroying forests resulting in degraded ecosystems, affecting weather patterns, and threatening our very survival as a species.
Saving Trees from Wildfires
In 2019 over 38 million hectares of woodland and rainforest have gone up in flames globally. According to Greenpeace, over 8 billion tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere due to wildfires every year, leading to global warming and more wildfires.
While wildfires can start naturally and have always existed, currently, 90% of them are due to human activity. These human-induced deadly fires are more intense, last longer, and spread faster as time goes. Indeed, from Australia and Indonesia to Siberia, Brazil, and California, the last few years have seen an increasing number of raging and uncontrollable infernos, sometimes turning into mega monsters fuelled by winds and drier weather conditions.
As trees burn, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Not only does this drive a rise in temperature, but it also leads to decreased rainfall resulting in vegetation drying out. The combination of dryer vegetation, which provides easy fuel for fires to start and infernos to feed on, and the warmer weather leads to fast-spreading and uncontrollable mega-fires. These mega-fires lead to the release of millions of tons of Co2, thus feeding the cycle of fire.
Human-driven deforestation plays a key role in these infernos as farmers usually start fires to clear land for cattle and soybean production, sometimes setting the whole forest ablaze, as seen in Brazil with the devastating summer 2019 wildfire. When the forest goes up in flames, millions of species die, acres of ecosystems are wiped out from the surface of the earth, and our planet is in agony. As such it is of utmost importance we take adequate measures in saving trees from these kind of wildfires.
How We Can Act in Saving Trees
At the rate of the current deforestation, the world’s rainforests could completely disappear within 100 years. However, not all is lost, and we have the power to stop this human-driven destructive force and help at an individual level. Indeed, by implementing easy steps and tiny changes in your daily lives, you could help save the forest and protect the planet.
Reducing Paper and Wood Consumption
In a digital era, reducing your paper consumption has never been easier. Opting for paperless notes, enrolling in electronic billing, avoiding printing unless necessary, and switching to digital subscriptions are some of the easy steps you can take to reduce your environmental impact. Recycling and revamping your wooden furniture is another easy step you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Besides, brands are now providing consumers with an increasing number of eco-friendly alternatives when it comes to paper products such as bamboo or recycled toilet paper. It’s also possible to purchase products that have been produced in a sustainable way and are not detrimental to rainforests.
The Rainforest Alliance Certified seal, for instance, is awarded to farms and wood or paper-related businesses working in harmony with nature, in saving trees and the ecological balance while meeting stringent environmental and social criteria. You can find the list of Rainforest Alliance Certified products here.
Reducing Red Meat and Dairy Consumption
Beef production is one of the biggest contributors to deforestation and global warming. Indeed, cows release methane, a toxic greenhouse gas that’s 28 times more efficient at warming the earth than carbon dioxide over a period of 100 years! Including more vegetables in your diet, reducing your red meat portions, replacing meat with beans or lentils, or adopting a flexitarian diet are all easy steps you can take to help slow down global warming and restore habitats. Besides, it’s good for your body, the planet, and your wallet. Be Vegan which will sure go a long way in saving trees.
Purchase Certified Sustainable Palm Oil Products
Over 27 million hectares of palm plantations cover the surface of the planet leading to the destruction of habitats and devastating consequences on the climate. While not buying products containing palm oil can prove disastrous for communities who rely on it for their livelihoods, buying products made with sustainable palm oil is an easy step you can take in order to reduce your carbon footprint. Indeed, purchasing products with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Certification (RSPO) label is a great way to ensure the products you’re purchasing have been made using sustainable practices and don’t come from the destruction or degradation of rainforests.
Sign Petitions on Change.Org for saving trees
Change.org is a platform allowing you to quickly identify and sign current petitions pertaining to deforestation issues. Some of the current petitions include Stop Deforestation, Stop Amazon Deforestation, or Trees Matters Too. This is a free and easy way to help protect thousands of acres of rainforests, thus saving trees and it will only take a minute of your time.
Donate to Tree-Planting Charities
According to the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, planting billions of trees is the best way to absorb the tremendous levels of Co2 emissions humanity produces every day, mitigate climate change, and restore ecosystems.
There are quite a few trustworthy organizations committed to fighting against deforestation and protecting ecosystems and natural habitats such as rainforests. They allow you to choose the amount you want to donate, so there is no contribution too small. 100% of the donations are used for conservation efforts. Planting a tree is almost synonymous with saving trees.
Rainforest Action Network, One Tree Planted, Sankalptaru and WWF are some of the charities committed to restoring natural habitats and helping our planet flourish once again. Planting trees has become vital to ensure a healthy planet for future generations, and these organizations’ conservation and restoration efforts are critical.
At Zen Lounge, we have integrated Saving the Planet through meditation within the App. As you relieve stress using the app, the earth will get relieved of CO2. For every Premium member ( with a subscription of as little as 1.99 US$ per month) we plant a tree. And as you keep using the app with daily meditation we plant more trees. Download the app today and together, we can make the world a much better place.
The time to plant a tree is now!
Scientists agree that we’ve reached a tipping point, and immediate action is needed more than ever for saving trees. The earth is our home, and nature is our soul. Relentless consumption and lack of consideration for how we treat our forests is destroying the planet a bit more each day in a soul-devouring process. We need trees and forests to survive physically and thrive mentally as they provide us with food, air, water, inspire us, and give us courage, strength, and wisdom. Therefore, let’s take action to protect the majestic guardians of the earth and help them thrive once again, one step at a time.