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Environment

The benefits of trees

Trees improve the look of any landscape. The variations in size, shape, colour, structure, flowers, foliage and scent make a stimulating and eye-catching environment akin to an artistic painting. This is important for all beings. Imagining the world without trees on the landscape is unfathomable; their importance as a slow growing yet stable part of the environment cannot be understated. Many specimens are older than any other living being on this earth; as such they deserve to be respected.
 |  Andrew Noakes  | 

There are so many benefits that trees bring to our lives and landscapes that this topic will be covered in two parts. This month highlights the personal benefits to humans, and next month will focus on the benefits to the landscape, industry, and the natural systems around us.

Private garden trees offer many benefits to homeowners including – varied canopy layers providing a diverse garden landscape, as well as creating privacy screens, shelter and windbreaks; trees also increase the value of a property. Certain species can be planted and harvested to provide firewood for the home, or fruit and nut species to use as a food source which helps people live a sustainable lifestyle. A well-placed high-amenity tree is a gift that keeps on giving for years, and hopefully generations, to come.

Public garden and park trees are especially important for residents who do not have access to a private garden in their living situation. Public areas with trees provide necessary spaces bringing many mental health benefits: the ability to see, smell, touch and commune with trees should not be underestimated for what they bring to human life. Public trees also provide a varied canopy, making park spaces more interesting for the senses.

Orchard trees are important for the ongoing production of various food sources for humans throughout the world. New Zealand apples are shipped worldwide, supporting the importance of the many orchards within the country and creates key exports important to maintaining the economy of New Zealand. Fruit and nut orchard trees also provide pollen for honey production, supporting another important food source.

Trees, like most plants, offer powerful medicine to be harnessed for healing on many levels. Long before modern Western medicine was accepted as the ‘norm’, trees were used (and are still widely used) by many cultures throughout the world for the medicine they provide. Various parts of trees are used for medicine making, from roots to bark to fruits. Some examples include (*this should not be taken as medical advice): willow can be used for pain relief, fevers and to treat wounds; alder is an astringent useful for washing wounds and can be made into a tea to help throat issues and fever; beech bark tea can be used to heal lung problems and also cleanses the blood. The ways to use trees for medicine are endless.