By Dr Arvind Kumar
In the midst of the recent havoc wrought out by unprecedented rains, lamdslides and floods, and challenges such as peak oil and climate change; there is a dire need to plant more trees. Trees help in controling floods. Trees not only provide shade, but in groups and clusters, they cool an area down. Various sources estimate that trees shading a home can cut air-conditioning costs by 30-50%, which will also decrease the strain on our aging electrical grid. Trees produce many different types of fruit (apples, mangoes, peaches, pears, oranges, plums, figs) and nuts (pecans, almonds, chestnut, walnut), which offer an important source of fat, nutrition, taste and sweetness. Unlike annual crops, trees only need to be planted once, minimizing soil and nutrient loss, and are easy to integrate into an urban landscape. Trees can provide income year after year. A well managed forest can yield wood not only for personal use, but also for sale as firewood or lumber.
The adverse effects of climate change are already being seen. Scientists, farmers, gardeners, and people who live in canary areas are witnessing the effects of drought, habitat change, and ice melt. Over time, the changes will become increasingly more obvious, probably in the form of more severe weather. Trees can help mitigate the effects of many types of severe and more extreme weather. They hold the soil to prevent erosion from downpours and flash floods. Holding the soil (and decreasing the soil temperature via shade) also prevents desertification and duststorms. The shade cast by trees decreases the effects of harsh heatwaves, and trees can usually survive drought much better than smaller plants. They can absorb carbon to help prevent the worst excesses of climate change, and they can provide habitat and food for other species that make up our ecosystems.