This World Environment Day (5 June) is all about air pollution.
Trees can help #BeatAirPollution caused by our homes, our cars, our farms, industries and waste streams, they’re an essential ally in the fight against our climate emergency.
And we need more of them. Despite their importance, just 13% of the UK’s total land area has tree cover (compared to an EU average of 35%).
This summer Friends of the Earth is launching a new More Trees Please campaign to get the UK talking trees and doubling our tree cover by 2045. Show your support and sign the More Trees Please petition here.
Emi Murphy, who leads @friends_earth’s new trees campaign: “Trees do an amazing job of removing climate-wrecking carbon from the atmosphere which is why we need to double tree cover to help the fight against climate chaos. More trees will help to improve our health and wellbeing too – they’re are the win-win we need for both our health, and the planet’s!”
We can’t save and promote what we don’t appreciate, so with that in mind, scroll down for our 10 awesome tree facts to celebrate our woody friends.
Want to return the leafy favour? Check out these 9 Ways You Can Plant More Trees This Year.
10 tree facts you need to know this World Environment Day
1. Trees talk
Trees talk to each other using an internet of fungus – and they use it for more important things than sending cat memes. You’ll find them using the fungal network to share nutrients and information, or even sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxic chemicals through the network.
2. Trees can hear
According to Monica Gagliano at the University of Western Australia, the trees themselves could hear it. Gagliano has gathered evidence that some plants may emit and detect sounds – in particular, a crackling noise in the roots at a frequency of 220 hertz, inaudible to human ears.
3. Trees are home to hundreds of different species
One mature oak can be home to as many as 500 different species. Richmond Park in London is full of such trees, which is one of the reasons it has been designated a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
4. Trees help us breathe
An acre of trees produces enough oxygen every year to support the needs of 18 people.
5. The Amazon keeps us alive
There’s a reason the Amazon rainforest is often known as the ‘lungs’ of our planet. It quite literally helps us breathe. In fact, it’s responsible for producing around 20% of the world’s oxygen.
6. Trees absorb carbon monoxide
An acre of mature trees absorb the same volume of carbon monoxide in a year as produced from a 26,000-mile car journey. To give you some perspective, a drive around Earth is just over 24,901 miles.
7. Trees are natural air con units
Trees are natural air conditioning units. In fact, the evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. We know which we’d rather have in our garden this summer.
8. Trees filter our water
New York’s water supply system is the largest unfiltered water system in the United States, delivering 1.2 billion gallons of water each day to 9 million residents. How? Because it gets water from watersheds where forests act as natural filters, removing pollutants.
9. The UK’s tallest tree is in Scotland
The Douglas fir crowned Britain’s tallest tree measures 66.4 metres and it’s in good company. According to Forestry Commission Scotland, the glen boasts the largest concentration of trees exceeding 55 metres anywhere in the British Isles. There must be something in the water.
10. Trees can live forever (almost)
5,000 years old. That’s how old some people believe the Fortingall yew in Perthshire is. Others estimate it to be 2,000 and 3,000 years old years old – but regardless, it is the UK’s oldest tree. In 1769, the girth was recorded as 17 metres. Nowadays, the trunk is split into several parts so it looks more like a group of trees than just one. And it’s started changing sex.