The importance and value of trees

Graphic by Amanda Bollig.

Ever since the Derecho hit Cedar Rapids last year, the conversation about the significance of trees has expanded. The fact that the city’s logo is a tree, puts the impact of loss and destruction into perspective. According to City Arborist Todd Fagan, Cedar Rapids lost close to 80,000 trees, obliterating two-thirds of the city’s canopy. With the loss comes long term adverse effects, like increased energy bills and stormwater runoff, which will take time to fully assess.  

What many people don’t realize is the value of trees and the benefit of their role in our modern lifestyles. Keeping this in mind, lets breakdown the benefits of trees, how they impact the  environment, and how you can help rebuild what has been lost. 

Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate control, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen.”  

Trees control climate by moderating the effects of the sun, rain, and wind. Leaves absorb and filter the sun’s energy, keeping things cool in the summer. Shade from trees reduces the need for air conditioning in summer also. During windy and cold seasons, trees located on the windward side act as windbreaks. 

Both above and below ground, trees are essential to the eco-systems in which they reside. Trees filter sewage and farm chemicals, reduce the effects of animal wastes, clean roadside spills, slow down flooding and clean water runoff into streams. Trees also contribute vital minerals to the soil by shedding their foliage and allowing it to decompose as mulch. 

Trees also muffle urban noise almost as effectively as stone walls. 

Another reason we like trees is because they are both beautiful and majestic. Modern communities value forests and trees for their calming influence. These strong bonds are evidenced by numerous groups and organizations across the country that protect and save large or historic trees from modern development.  

These reasons are why trees are a vital part of our everyday lives. The good news is you can help,   with organizations like Trees Forever and Releaf Cedar Rapids, you can improve efforts to rebuild. By helping the cause, you can ensure future generations enjoy the beauty and benefit of trees. 



Image courtesy of Amanda Bollig

Categories: Feature