Arbor Day falls on April 24th this year. What is Arbor Day and why is it significant? Arbor Day is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to go out into their communities to plant and care for trees.
Each year, billions of trees are cut down for raw materials such as lumber and paper products. This is a huge problem, because trees are vital to environmental health. Trees are an important component of the natural landscape. They prevent erosion and provide a weather-sheltered ecosystem in and under their foliage. They also play an important role in producing oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as well as moderating ground temperatures. Arbor Day is recognized as a holiday to highlight the importance of trees in our world and emphasizes need for environmental sustainability.
The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. The idea of this holiday was formed by Nebraskan journalist Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902). Serving as President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture, Morton dedicated his career to improve agricultural techniques and health. He proposed that a special day be set aside dedicated to tree planting and health. The first Arbor Day resulted in more than one million trees planted and the day became a national holiday in 1970 when President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day.
What You Can Do
This Arbor Day, think about steps you can take to make a difference. Take stock of the trees on your property and plan for the future. Inspect your trees by looking for broken branches of signs of insect infestation. Looking for a new landscaping project? Think about how planting new trees might improve the scenery of your property. Planting trees can even save you money! If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills should be 3% less. In 15 years the savings will be nearly 12%. Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value. Look for events in your community hosting group plantings, or start a movement of your own.
Planting just a single tree is step in the right direction for environmental sustainability. An old Chinese proverb sums up nicely why everyone should participate in Arbor Day: