What Happens If All Of A City's Trees Are Cut Down? 🎥
Trees are of invaluable importance to our environment and to human well being; they contribute to the environment by providing oxygen, better air quality, improving our climate, conserving and storing water and preserving soil. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe. Not only are trees essential for life, but as long living species on earth, they give us a link between the past, present and future. It is critical that woodlands, rainforests and trees in urban settings, such as parks, are preserved and sustainably managed across the world.
For us humans, every aspect of our life is reliant on the natural environment including the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the clothes we wear and the products that are made and sold to create jobs and drive the economy. Wood has been used for thousands of years for fuel, as a construction material, for making tools and weapons, furniture and paper. More recently it emerged as a feedstock for the production of purified cellulose and its derivatives, such as cellophane and cellulose acetate.
But the worldwide occuring, ongoing deforestation, has an almost irreversible impact on our environment. Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land for use such as arable land, pasture, urban use, logged area, or wasteland. Deforestation can also be seen as removal of forests leading to several imbalances ecologically and environmentally, resulting in declines in habitat and biodiversity. Urbanisation, mining, fires, logging and agricultural activities are few of the causes of deforestation.
The destruction of trees therefore encourages global warming. Changing temperatures will alter which organisms can survive in an ecosystem.
A National Geographic article from February 2019 states:
"As the world seeks to slow the pace of climate change, preserve wildlife, and support billions of people, trees inevitably hold a major part of the answer. Yet the mass destruction of trees—deforestation—continues, sacrificing the long-term benefits of standing trees for short-term gain.
Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but they are disappearing at an alarming rate. Between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 502,000 square miles (1.3 million square kilometers) of forest, according to the World Bank—an area larger than South Africa. Since humans started cutting down forests, 46 percent of trees have been felled, according to a 2015 study in the journal Nature. About 17 percent of the Amazonian rainforest has been destroyed over the past 50 years, and losses recently have been on the rise."
These are disturbing facts about the continuing deforestation worldwide. 68 percent of the world population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050, says UN (United Nations). Today, 55 percent of the world's population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68 percent by 2050.
So when it comes to “cities”, what word comes to mind? For me it is busy, loud and polluted. And when you think of “forests”? Most likely it will be peaceful.
What if cities would be something different to how we know them?
Trees improve the livability of our cities for countless reasons. However, for many years tree coverage in our urban areas has been decreasing. Large mature trees which reach the end of their lives are often replaced with smaller species - if at all. These replanted trees then struggle to establish and reach maturity due to the demands of paved surrounds around them. The value trees offer our cities are not just relevant to landscape architects, urban planners, developers and local authorities, they are of critical importance to urban populations as a whole.
Please watch the following video. Explore what makes trees a vital part of cities, and how urban spaces throughout history have embraced the importance of trees.
By 2050, it’s estimated that over 65% of the world will be living in cities. We may think of nature as being unconnected to our urban spaces, but trees have always been an essential part of successful cities. Humanity has been uncovering these arboreal benefits since the creation of our first cities thousands of years ago. So what makes trees so important to a city’s survival? Stefan Al explains.
🎥 (5:25) What happens if you cut down all of a city’s trees? - Stefan Al (TED-Ed)
One of the simple solutions that everyone can participate in is planting trees. Each part of the tree contributes to climate control, from leaves to roots, in three primary ways: they lower temperatures, reduce energy usage and reduce or remove air pollutants.
Whether you plant trees around your home and property, in your community, nature reserves or in our national forests, they do help fight climate change.
As you can see, trees are beneficial to tackle climate change and an important part of keeping our environment healthy in many ways. Their contribution doesn’t stop here.
Trees truly "green" our planet in a countless number of ways. Why not plant one today?
National Geographic, Feb 2019 (viewed 28.04.2020)