“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” This anonymous quote speaks volumes as to why planting a tree today is one of the most important actions we can take to ensure the future health of our natural environment.
Because trees are one of our most important natural resources, protecting water quality, cleaning our air and providing a natural habitat for wildlife, planting a tree is actually an investment in the future health of our land and water.
To encourage residents to plant more trees, state agencies have joined with businesses for Marylanders Grow Trees, an initiative under the Smart, Green and Growing program, designed to encourage citizen involvement with forest restoration. The short term goal is to inspire enough residents to plant 50,000 new trees by 2010, with a long term target of 1 million plantings by 2011. Marylanders can register the trees they plant and calculate their benefits on the state’s website www.DNR.Maryland.gov/GrowTrees where there is an interactive map, as well as discount coupons and incentives for planting trees this spring.
And there’s more than one way to ensure more trees take root by having a tree planted in the name of a loved one through Tree-Mendous Maryland. This program will arrange for a tree to be planted as a gift and will be placed in the county in which the recipient lives. All trees purchased through Tree-Mendous Maryland are planted on public land throughout the state, within our towns and cities, in parks and schoolyards, and along streams & creeks. Such a gift is not just for the recipient, but it is also a gift to the environment as well as something for future generations to enjoy.
Of course trees beautify our landscape and communities, but they also attract birds, improve air and water quality, act as a noise or privacy barrier, and overall contribute to our quality of life. Trees also control and filter stormwater and reduce soil erosion. Just one large tree can eliminate 5,000 gallons of stormwater runoff each year.
Trees can also help us financially. A well planted and maintained landscape with mature trees can increase residential property values up to 25 percent. Good tree cover can actually cut air conditioning costs. In fact, a city lot with 30 percent plant cover provides the equivalent cooling necessary to air condition two small houses 12 hours a day.
There are many practical reasons to plant, but just gazing at a beautiful tree, even in the dead of winter, can simply remind us of the living, magnificent beauty that surrounds us all. As Martin Luther once said, “For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.”