5 Things You Didn’t Know About How Trees Look After Us

While we’re losing forest the size of the UK each year, the world’s tree cover has increased 7% since 1982. Most of that is down to man-made planatations and now we know trees are our biggest natural solution to climate change, planting more is increasining important.

Rebecca McNamara from Treedom talks to us about why trees are so important to us and the planet.

Georgina Wilson-Powell 13 February 2020


Trees love indiscriminately. They give us the air we breathe and the food we eat. They contribute to all life on earth. For the team at Treedom, at this point in time it feels really important to be reminded of this, and to move away from the messages of fear and hate that so often accompany conversations around climate change. 

Plant a tree for love – love for each other, love for nature, love for our futures.

1. Trees make us happy

The benefits of being outside have been well-researched and well-documented, with over a hundred studies attesting to the mental, physical and emotional advantages of being exposed to nature. 

In fact, being outdoors is proven to relieve stress, anxiety and depression, whilst restoring energy and concentration and improving feelings of vitality and focus.

2. Trees capture CO2 and produce oxygen

Another of the better-known benefits of planting trees is absorbing CO2 in the atmosphere, producing oxygen in the process. As pollution in our atmosphere increases (and forest cover decreases), this is a process that is increasingly critical.  

Recent research from the Swiss university ETH Zurich found that forest restoration is overwhelmingly the top solution to climate change, vital for removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. 

According to the U.S. Forest Service in New York City, trees save an average of 850 American lives a year by removing particulate pollution from the air.

3. Trees stop soil erosion and fight desertification 

The roots of trees help to bind soil, absorbing excess water, preventing soil being carried away and impacting urban infrastructure, agriculture or biodiversity. In some areas, deforestation can lead to such extensive soil erosion that the area suffers from desertification – the process by which fertile land becomes desert. 

Planting trees can reverse desertification. For example, Timberland is working with a selection of partners, including Treedom, in their new Nature Needs Heroes project – an initiative to plant 50 million trees in a belt across the Saharan desert, dubbed the Great Green Wall.

4. Trees encourage biodiversity and provide a home for many

Trees provide animals with food, shelter and protection, providing a home for many and playing a vital role in ecosystems. From sloths and koalas that cling to tree trunks, to small fish and crustaceans that find shade and shelter in the deep roots of a mangrove tree, our trees play a vital role in our delicate ecosystems. 

5. Trees produce fruit, providing opportunities for empowerment 

Trees also have the potential to bring about great social benefits. When you plant a tree with Treedom, you are supporting smallholder farmers who want to plant trees, supporting their work in the early years before the saplings are producing fruit. 

These agroforestry initiatives are designed to realise sustainable ecosystems, whilst also ensuring food autonomy and income opportunities over time. In this way, Treedom contributes to 10 of 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the UN to end poverty.

Plant and gift a tree this spring with Treedom.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.