The world's tree population is important in a multitude of ways. Trees add beauty to both urban and rural areas. They provide protection from the sun and shelter for animals that crawl, prowl, climb, and fly. Trees are a source of food for humans and wildlife alike, and some can even be used for medicinal or healing purposes. In addition, some of the most important benefits of the world's trees, particularly the abundance found in forests and rainforests, is that they help clean the air and water. There are trillions of trees on the planet, but this number is dropping as the world loses billions of trees annually. Given enough time and a lack of effective action, this could result in a significant loss of trees, which would be dangerous to most living creatures on the planet.
One of the primary causes of the steady loss of trees is deforestation. Deforestation is the clearing of trees from a large and wide area. It is typically caused by humans who destroy the trees for the land or for the raw material. For example, trees are often removed for agricultural purposes such as increased livestock space or more cropland. Deforestation may occur to meet the needs of an ever-growing population and the resulting need for new highways, homes, and other buildings. The ever-present need for timber leads to logging, particularly illegal logging, excessively cutting down trees. To help combat deforestation, people can make simple changes to their daily lives such as going paperless or recycling paper goods.
Another way to counter deforestation is to replace the trees that are being removed. Homeowners, for example, should plant trees in their yards, as they not only make an attractive addition but they may add value to the home and can decrease one's energy bill by providing shade from the sun. Planting trees is also a popular activity every April 22 on Earth Day. At that time, many people volunteer or pledge to plant trees at home or at designated locations such as parks or schools.
When planting new trees, it isn't uncommon to want the same type as other trees in the area. For this reason, the ability to identify trees is a skill that can prove valuable. Additionally, tree identification can be beneficial to the trees' maintenance and care. When attempting to identify a tree, it can be helpful to look at the size and shape of the leaves and flowers. Fruit is another feature that is commonly used to help with identification. Hand-held field guides are available to help with the identification process, as are apps or websites that can be used for reference.
Numerous other resources are available that will help with more than tree identification. On the Internet, one can learn more about deforestation and what actions are being taken to slow it down. Resources that provide tips on choosing and planting trees are also available online and in print at libraries or bookstores. Nurseries are yet another valuable resource where people can get a wealth of regional information, such as what trees are best in a local area and common diseases or pests that may prove problematic.
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