With Earth Day over (though everyday is really Earth Day), it’s on to Arbor Day. The last Friday in April is Arbor Day, a national holiday dating back to 1874 when J. Sterling Morton, a journalist and editor of an important Nebraska paper, founded it. (Arbor Day does vary in some states based on the best tree planting time.) His idea was to set aside a special day for tree planting; it is estimated that more one million trees were planted that first Arbor Day in Nebraska. The tradition began nationwide in 1882 and continues today with individuals and groups celebrating trees and nature.
Planting new trees and caring for existing ones is more important than ever as we battle exotic invasive insect pests, air pollution, soil compaction and contamination, limited water and nutrient availability and the overall effects of extreme weather conditions and climate change. Trees are much more than just a beautiful big plant; their social, communal, and environmental benefits are numerous.
- They manufacture oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.
- They provide shade in summer and windbreak in winter.
- The beauty and serenity of trees have been shown to help hospital patients recover more quickly.
- Trees reduce crime in low-income urban areas and increase property values.
- Trees help us save energy, improve air quality, conserve water and provide homes to wildlife.
- Trees offset our carbon footprints.
- Large and majestic trees are a major asset to any community.
This Friday, Arbor Day, plant a tree, learn how to care for a special tree in your yard or neighborhood, read a tree identification book, conduct a big tree search, or simply take a walk and appreciate their beauty, especially this time of year. For group activity ideas, go to arborday.org.