Imagine having a picnic with your family in the park.
The trees towering overhead provide cool shade from the summer sun. Their leaves dance in the light, casting shadows in interesting shapes on the ground. Like seeing animals and shapes in clouds in the sky, children imagine so many wonders hidden in these moving shadows.
You finish your lunch and lay back on the cool, red-and-white-checkered blanket, taking a deep, fresh breath. Those park trees are absorbing all the toxins. The air is so much cleaner here.
Then you get up and take a walk through the trees. The wind blows through the leaves, and the only sound you hear is the forest - a collective sound, peaceful and quiet. But when you break it down, it's full of more than a million sounds - forest floor crunching, water trickling, leaves rustling, animals scurrying.
Your children race through the trees, discovering pine cones and acorns and sticks and stones. Their minds are enriched and spinning with ideas and imagination.
The birds nearby create a serenade. They use those trees for shelter and food, including fruits, seeds, nuts and bugs. You hear the scampering of chipmunks and squirrels, and as you look deep into the forest you see the wide eyes and still antlers of a deer. An entire world exists here in this magical place.
And you realize: You are not the only one who benefits from the trees.
Trees provide food, shelter, shade, beauty and cleaner air to every creature nearby - man or beast. Beyond their practical uses, trees stimulate the spirit of creativity.
|Ted and Audrey of The Lorax on a quest to plant the last Truffula tree seed. Photo: Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment|
Trees also carry "TREEmendous" value. One million trees can generate $162 million worth of environmental benefits over 50 years, the U.S. Forest Service reports. Those one million trees can provide oxygen for up to 4 million people on one day and absorb 1 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, Tree Canada Foundation explains. Trees also restore habitats of hundreds of species of animals, some of which are threatened or endangered, the Arbor Day Foundation adds.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Forest Service says our cities are losing 4 million trees each year. In communities across the country, this loss of canopy cover means Americans are losing out on the enormous benefits of healthy urban forests. Trees in cities help clean our air, reduce our energy use, manage stormwater overflow and mitigate water pollution. They keep us healthy and cool, while also keeping our neighborhoods green and beautiful.
|The Lorax and the Once-ler in a forest of Truffula trees. Photo: Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment|
As a tribute to Dr. Seuss today, when his 1971 tribute to trees The Lorax opens in theaters and also on the writer's 108th birthday, we thought we'd take the opportunity to honor our air-purifying, energy-reducing and environment-enhancing friends.
Are you also feeling a little tree love today? You may not be able to plant one million trees, but you can plant one. Treat the environment to a new tree this spring. You'll be doing something beneficial not just for yourself, but for your community, its economy, its sustainability, its people and its wildlife. Now imagine if every person in every community planted one tree. The Lorax reminds all of us that humans and nature are inextricably intertwined, and that trees are essential for strong communities.
As Dr. Seuss himself says: "Plant a tree! Treat it with care. Give it clean water and feed it fresh air. Unless someone like you cares an awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's just not."