Save The Trees: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Forests + Urban Landscapes

Save The Trees: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Forests + Urban Landscapes

Do you want to help save the trees? You should! Trees play a huge role in our fight against climate change. One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people! When a rainforest is burnt down to make way for cattle, palm oil, etc. the trees release all the carbon they’ve stored into the atmosphere. This only contributes to the climate crisis. We need to protect the forests, which function like the lungs of the earth.

And, we also need to protect trees in urban areas too! According to the USDA Forests Service, trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20–50 percent in energy used for heating. Plus,  the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Many BIPOC and low-income communities don’t have access to green spaces, let alone trees. This needs to change – because as summers get hotter due to climate change, these are the people that are more likely to suffer from heat stroke.

Thing is, trees are kind of in trouble right now. Between deforestation, wildfires, and natural disasters – we’re losing more than we should. But don’t despair: If you want to help save the trees, now is the time. Here are 5 easy ways to save the trees, both in urban areas and in forests!

Save The Trees: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Forests + Urban Landscapes

Save The Trees: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Forests + Urban Landscapes

1. Stop buying English ivy – and other invasive plants

If there’s one thing you do on this list, let it be this! STOP buying English Ivy for your garden, or even as an indoor plant. It is incredibly invasive!

If you take a walk outside, especially near a park or forested area, scan the trees – you will probably see one that has a thick, dark green leaf all over it. That’s English Ivy! Get good at IDing it and you will be able to see how prolific it is…

Below is a photo of what English Ivy looks like on a tree from afar…see the one that has the dark green leaves creeping up the trunk?

Save The Trees: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Forests + Urban Landscapes

Here’s why it’s a problem: Ivy steals trees’ water and nutrients, rots their bark, can cause them to topple, and can block their sunlight.

On top of avoiding English Ivy in your garden/indoor area, consider talking to your local parks department about removing it.

You could also reach out to local representatives about the issue and ask if they could help you spread the word and gather some volunteers to help remove it.

Also, spread the word to family and friends! If everyone knows about this, more people will care.

You can even take it one step further and request your local plant nurseries/Home Depot stop selling it, and explain why!

This goes for other invasive plants too: Please consider using native plants in your garden.

Save The Trees: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Forests + Urban Landscapes

2. Plant a tree!

This may seem obvious but…planting a tree is a great way to help save the trees!

You may think one tree doesn’t amount to much, but that simply isn’t true.

If you own a home, there are SO many amazing reasons to plant trees – both for the environment, and your wallet.

Here are several reasons to plant a tree on your property, taken from

  • If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills should be 3% less. In 15 years the savings will be nearly 12%. – Dr. E. Greg McPherson, Center for Urban Forest Research
  • A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000. – Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers
  • Having large trees in yards along streets increases a home’s value from 3 percent to 15 percent. – Wolf, Kathleen L, PhD, University of Washington (2007) City Trees and Property Values. Arborist News. 16, 4:34-36.
  • Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent. – Management Information Services/ICMA

You can plant any type of tree you’d like, but I advise you to look into trees that are native to your area for the best outcome.

If you have a garden, planting some fruit trees is a great idea, if you plan on staying in your home for a long time. Fruit trees can take a few years to actually bear fruit, so keep that in mind.

However, if you’re a renter like me, you can look and see on your city’s local .gov or parks department how you can request a tree be planted on your street. Or, see if they have any tree planting activities happening any time soon. For NYC, check here to request a tree planting.

I recently went to a tree planting event and it was AWESOME. Not easy work, but definitely rewarding to say the least.

Save The Trees: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Forests + Urban Landscapes

3. Avoid purchasing products that contain conflict palm oil

Palm oil is in SO many of our products. This is a problem because it’s one of the main causes of deforestation.

Rainforests are often cleared to make way for palm oil monocultures.

I have NO qualms with the palm oil plant itself (it has a lot of wonderful uses and is very versatile when grown in its native habitat)…but monocultures of it are bad for the environment. There’s no biodiversity, and more often than not, it takes away homes of many rainforest inhabitants, like orangutans.

You can often find palm oil hidden in the ingredients list of items like pre-packaged cookies, chocolate and ice cream. I suggest always reading the label before buying something – and be aware it can be labeled under another name like “palm kernel” or “palm fruit oil”.

Here are some action tips:

  • Consider avoiding purchasing anything with conflict palm oil in it. You can see where brands measure up using this handy palm oil scorecard.
  • WRITE to companies that use conflict palm oil in it and demand it be taken out or replaced with sustainable palm oil.
  • Try to find products with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification only.
Save The Trees: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Forests + Urban Landscapes

4. Use Ecosia as your search engine

This is literally so simple and you don’t even need to get off the couch to do it. Just switch over to Ecosia as your main search engine!

You search the web with Ecosia, search ads generate income for Ecosia, and then Ecosia uses this income to plant trees. So far, they’ve planted over 65 million trees, and counting!

They plant the trees in 35+ countries (such as Brazil, Senegal, and Indonesia) with local organizations.

Their main goal is to restore and protect biodiversity hot spots. Instead of monocultures, they grow over 500 different native species where they are needed most.

Save The Trees: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Forests + Urban Landscapes

5. Reduce your meat and dairy consumption

Remember how I mentioned one of the causes of deforestation was cattle? Well sadly, according to WWF, extensive cattle ranching is the number one culprit of deforestation in virtually every Amazon country, and it accounts for 80% of current deforestation.

Also, the deforestation caused by cattle ranching is responsible for the release of 340 million tons of carbon to the atmosphere every year, equivalent to 3.4% of current global emissions.

Most of the beef you’ll find in hamburgers are from cattle ranching in the Amazon. A large portion of the land used there is also used to farm soy, but most of this is not grown for human consumption: Nearly 80 percent of soy is grown for farm animal feed. 

That’s why one of the best things you can do for trees, and the environment, is to eat a mostly plant-based diet. Even if it’s just one meal per day, or 2-3x a week.

Even better, start shopping for seasonal, local produce at the farmers market! That way, you know the food isn’t coming from the Amazon, but grown and harvested locally.

Usually food at the farmers market will be from your own state, or the next state over. Still, such a smaller carbon footprint than it being grown and harvested overseas! And no risk of deforestation.

So, what do you think of my tips for saving the trees? Let me know in the comments below!

For more ways to save trees, check out my blog post about celebrating Arbor Day!

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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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