Everyday we see the brown bark and green foliage of trees. But although we are always seeing them, their contributions to life on earth go unnoticed. Trees have become a constant in our lives whether in our backyard or on the set of a preschool play, but most people take for granted the monumental things trees do and what would happen if they suddenly weren't there anymore. Trees are important to humans and all the other living things that call earth home.
One of my best memories from when I was younger was in trees. Grabbing on to the textured bark and pulling myself into the limb's embrace. There was this one tree: an old oak that lived in a nearby park, that was especially special. This tree's surface was marked up with the carvings and messages of many generations of history. Whenever I went to this park I would always stop to go over to this tree. Pulling myself into the foliage, up and up and up, I would look over the park and with the wind in my hair I would feel like I was on top of the world. There is no feeling quite like hanging onto swaying branches and peeking between leaves at the top of a tree.
When I was older I started to notice something that seemed odd to me: some trees in little wooded areas would get marked and then get cut down. This experience opened my eyes to the more expansive topic of deforestation. Deforestation is the act of cutting down trees with the intention of clearing a space. Although the occasional tree being chopped down in my neighborhood was not precisely deforestation it hooked my interest on the pressing problems of deforestation. In many parts of the world there are people cutting down trees to clear an area for a new road or for timber, whatever thier reason it is permanently damaging the wooded areas of the world. The Untied Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that around 18 million acres of forests are demolished each year. This means that all the trees that could fill up Panama from border to border were cut down to make room for humans. Though the law limits deforestation in most areas, trees are still being chopped down illegally and this causes a growing problem.
Trees are not only for nice landscaping and something large and green to look at, they have many important uses. One of the largest arguments against deforestation is because of the wildlife that call those trees home. Many endangered monkey species in Africa live in small pieces of protected forest that are constantly targeted by loggers, people who cut down trees. In fact, deforestation is in the top five causes for species extinction (along with agriculture and habitat fragmentation that are indirectly related to deforestation). Another problem of deforestation, one that directly effects humans as well as woodland animals, is the production of oxygen. Animals breath oxygen in and carbon dioxide (CO2) out; this process is reversed by trees and other plants, they collect the CO2 in the air and release oxygen back to animals. With 30 percent of the land covered in forest it is the largest producer of oxygen on land. However, with deforestation diminishing that percentage it will also diminish the amount of CO2 taken from the air to be replaced by oxygen. These are just two of the things that these large pieces of backyard landscaping do for life on earth.
Here are some of the many reasons why trees are both a mental and physical importance on earth. The lack of trees wouldn't only hurt the trees themselves, but also all the other living creatures that call earth home. So now that we know what our tall friends do for us everyday, what will we do for them in return?