Drops of green wisdom

Drops of green wisdom – connection between trees and water

FAIN FALLS AND TREES GROW. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN TREES AND WATER IS OBVIOUS: TREES NEED WATER TO SURVIVE. BUT THERE IS MORE TO THIS WATERY RELATIONSHIP THAN JUST THIRST. DID YOU KNOW TREES SLOW THE FLOW OF STORMWATER; THAT AN ACRE OF TREES ANNUALLY CAN ABSORB 10 TONS OF CARBON DIOXIDE; THAT THE OXYGEN TREES PRODUCE IS RELEASED FROM WATER, NOT CARBON DIOXIDE; OR THAT SHADE CAN INFLUENCE THE TYPE OF ALGAE GROWING IN STREAMS AND AFFECT THE ENTIRE FOOD CHAIN? READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS CYCLE OF INTERDEPENDENCE.

TREE FACTS

* A MATURE BIRCH, WITH 200,000 LEAVES MAY GIVE OFF AS MUCH AS 900 GALLONS OF WATER IN A SUMMER’S DAY

* A TREE IN FULL LEAF MAY LIFT 240 GALLONS OF WATER (1 TON) A DAY FROM THE SOIL AND CARRY IT THROUGH AN INTRICATE SYSTEM OF PIPELINES TO EVERY LEAF. GENERALLY, MORE THAN 90 PERCENT OF THE WATER TREES ABSORB CYCLES OUT THROUGH TRANSPIRATION.

* A MATURE TREE’S LEAVES MAY HAVE A TOTAL SURFACE AREA UP TO 24 TIMES THE SIZE OF THE GROUND OVER WHICH IT’S GROWING.

FOREST FACTS

* IN SNOWY WESTERN FORESTS, THE TREE CANOPY AND UNDERBRUSH CATCH AND TURN TO VAPOR UP TO 25 PERCENT OF THE SNOW THAT FALLS. IN THE EAST, BY INTERCEPTING RAINWATER AND CYCLING IT OUT THROUGH TRANSPIRATION, MATURE FORESTS CAN REDUCE BY 40 TO 60 PERCENT THE AMOUNT OF WATER REACHING STREAMS AND THE WATER TABLE.

* IF 30 PERCENT OF THE SKYLINE IN AN AVERAGE CITY IS COVERED BY TREE CANOPY, THE FLOW OF STORMWATER IS REDUCED BY 14 PERCENT.

* ALMOST ONE-THIRD OF THE U.S. IS COVERED WITH FOREST; THAT’S ABOUT 70 PERCENT OF THE TREE COVER THAT EXISTED IN 1600. IN 1993, AMERICANS REFORESTED 2.4 MILLION ACRES OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LANDS, AND A COMPARABLE AREA REGENERATED NATURALLY.

* TREES KEEP EXCESS PHOSPHORUS AND NITRATES – FOUND AS POLLUTANTS IN RUNOFF – FROM ENTERING STREAMS AND RIVERS BY USING THEM AS NUTRIENTS FOR THEIR OWN GROWTH. BECAUSE OF THEIR USEFULNESS AND BEAUTY, MANY PLANNERS HAVE MADE TREES THEIR “STRATEGY” OF CHOICE FOR CLEANING AND PROTECTING WATER SOURCES.

* TREES ARE CRITICAL TO PROTECTING WETLANDS, WHICH IN TURN CAN DRAMATICALLY DECREASE FLOOD LEVELS.

* WHEN ABOUT A THIRD OF A WATERSHED IS IN WETLANDS, ITS FLOOD PEAK FLOWS ARE REDUCED BY 80 PERCENT OVER AN AREA WITHOUT WETLANDS. WHEN ONLY 15 PERCENT OF THE WATERSHED IS IN WETLANDS, THE FLOOD PEAKS ARE STILL REDUCED BY 65 PERCENT.

* WHEN ROADS AND CONCRETE ARE ADDED TO THE LANDSCAPE AT A LEVEL OF ONLY 10 TO 15 PERCENT, THERE IS A NOTICEABLE DROP IN WATER QUALITY. THAT’S BECAUSE THE TREES THAT THEY REPLACE CONSTANTLY ABSORB OR SEQUESTER WATER AND POLLUTANTS.

COPYRIGHT 1997 American Forests

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group