Arbor Day & The Importance of Tree Planting

Credit(s): Vitor Monthay via Unsplash

Every year, on Friday, April 29th, millions of people will gather together and travel to open acres. They will wear their gardening gear as they prepare to plant as many trees as they can.

After all, April 29th is Arbor Day

Occurring on the last Friday of April, Arbor Day celebrates the nature of trees. For many countries, this is a time to honor the most fundamental parts of our environment. Arbor Day encourages people to plant new trees — either alone or as a community. A popular tradition is to plant a tree in honor of a loved one or a treasured special memory.

Thank You, Mr. Julius Sterling Morton

If I had the power, I would compel every man in the State who had a home of his own to plant out and cultivate fruit trees.

Started by former journalist turned U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Julius Sterling Morton, Arbor Day was a way for him to share his love for trees with others. As an editor for a Nebraskan newspaper, he wrote various articles discussing agriculture — specifically mentioning his avid interest in trees. At the time, Nebraska did not have many trees in the area, so he suggested Arbor Day as a way to increase its population. He fully believed that by planting trees, people could better protect their crops from environmental hazards like erosion.

The first Arbor Day was celebrated on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska City, Nebraska. It was estimated that almost 1 million trees were planted. In 1885, Arbor Day became a legal holiday.

Credit(s): Nebraska Education on Location

After marrying his wife Caroline Joy French in Detroit, the newfound couple decided to explore the rural areas of Nebraska. In doing so, they stumbled across a treeless acre, which they would soon call home. Over the course of his life, Morton raised 4 sons and continued to plant a plentiful amount of trees on his acre from apple orchards to evergreens. On April 27, 1902, he passed away at the age of 70. Today, his home is recognized as a state park by Nebraska and is visited by many.

The Many Benefits of Trees

Arbor Day Foundation has planted and distributed about 500 million trees in over 50 countries around the world. Planting trees every year incurs many benefits, including.

  • Clean Air: Trees produce oxygen, and in doing so, they help remove pollution by lowering air temperatures, releasing water into the atmosphere, and trapping particle pollution. All in all, trees are one of nature’s ways to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Foster Biodiversity: Planting trees encourages the settlement of many animals. This increases biodiversity, which provides a strong foundation for an ecosystem.
  • Reduce Energy Costs: Trees are considered a “low-tech” solution for energy conservation. In areas where trees provide a natural shade, air conditioning may no longer be needed. Studies have shown that areas without shade are more susceptible to higher temperatures, than areas with (citing as much as 12 degrees ℉ higher). In the winter, trees work to help break the force of winter winds, which lowers heat costs.

What We Can Do This Coming Arbor Day

Though not as widely celebrated as Earth Day, Arbor Day is still an important holiday. By working together to plant millions of trees, people can attempt to rebuild a safe and healthy future for all generations.

Here are some ways you can participate in the upcoming Arbor Day:

  • Support the Arbor Day Foundation: You can plant trees, donate, become part of their forest restoration team, set up fundraisers with them, etc.
  • Plant trees with friends and family: Here are some organizations you can use Tree Canada, One Tree Planted, and Tree Aid
  • Enjoy the outdoors: Take a visit to your local park and nature hike. Participate in local cleanups to keep these environments healthy.

References & Resources to Learn More:

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The Environmental Justice Coalition is a youth-led organization fighting for intersectional environmental justice and uplifting BIPOC and marginalized communities through political advocacy, policy writing, community organizing, educational initiatives, and content creation.

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Alysha Selvarajah

Alysha Selvarajah

biology & clinical psych

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