Why Plant Native Trees?

Native trees are adapted to their local environmental conditions, which enables them to grow healthier and stronger with less water and little or no maintenance. Native trees are vital to preserving biodiversity and sustaining functioning ecosystems by providing nutrients and shelter to all forms of wildlife. Thus, when you plant native trees, you help the birds, animals and insects that depend on them. It is within the shelter of native trees that many animals and insects will raise their young because these trees also provide the nutrients they need to survive. Overall, native trees don’t have as many pest problems as non-native species, reducing the demand for pesticides. 

Native trees such as maples are good sources of food for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths, and ants. Pines offer food and habitats for a variety of breeding birds and small animals; They also serve as shelter and a source of food for deer. In his book The Nature of Oaks, entomologist Doug Tallamy describes North America’s native oak tree species as the most powerful plants that exist because more creatures depend on them than any other tree species. He has shown that native oaks support over 500 species of caterpillars alone, which is critical because it takes about 6,000 caterpillars to raise one brood of chickadees. The oak tree’s leaf litter, which takes longer to decompose than other tree leaves, protects soil moisture levels and restores nutrients and organic material to the soil. In another book of his, Bringing Nature Home, Tallamy discusses the importance of the black walnut tree, estimating that its leaves provide food for caterpillars and over 100 species of moths and butterflies. This, in turn, creates a critical food source for birds. The tree’s sweet-tasting walnuts are a valuable food for both humans and wildlife alike, since they are rich in nutrients and phytochemicals which prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. The nuts feed squirrels, mice, voles, foxes and many other animals.

It is well known that trees improve the quality of life for humans in many ways. They restore our health, happiness, and vitality by cleaning and scenting the air with medically beneficial compounds. Trees reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and uplift moods. Science has proven that time spent with trees can produce a relaxing effect that lasts for days. In many countries, doctors write prescriptions for ‘forest bathing’ and offer passes to national parks as a remedy for some illnesses. Trees enrich our bodies, minds, and environments, cleansing the air we breathe and the water we drink. They play a key role in removing air pollutants from the atmosphere while also releasing oxygen for us to breathe.

Trees boost our economies by giving us fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, wood, and biochemicals that cure our diseases. They add ornamental value and beauty to our properties while reducing cooling costs by providing necessary shade.  

Trees provide many benefits that make the environment more resilient to climate change. Native trees improve and preserve topsoil, absorbing storm water and reducing erosion from climate change induced flooding. Trees lessen the impact of violent storms by physically protecting infrastructure, animals, and humans from the elements. All trees help stop global warming by sequestering harmful carbon dioxide from the air through the process of photosynthesis. They naturally store carbon within the tree and soil. Long-living native trees like oaks and maples are known to be the most effective at absorbing these emissions. This is why Trees for a Future focuses on planting native trees: Tree planting and reforestation, particularly through native species, are the most effective ways to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, limit global warming, and protect the environment for future generations.