19 Reasons Why Trees are Vital to the World, including Us

19 Reasons Why Trees are Vital to the World, including Us

Even though I don’t want too many or big trees in our garden, I am well aware that trees are vital to the world. The only reason that I don’t want too many of them in our garden is that they wouldn’t have room to grow.

It’s kind of a luxury decision. After all, we live at the foot of a nature park that covers the mountains in front of our house. And behind the house is a little terrain covered with trees and shrubs. Plenty of trees in my environment to enjoy.

Planting trees is a very symbolic act. After all, who will survive who? Most likely, the tree will outlive the planter. I was very aware of this when we planted a fig tree and an olive tree in our garden together with our grandchildren.

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Why trees are vital to the world

Trees, the largest representatives of the plant kingdom, regulate the air, soil, and water around us. The world would be completely different without trees and most probably human life would not be possible.

Trees are amazing

Mastbos, Breda, the Netherlands

Trees even communicate with each other and help weaker trees survive. The German Peter Wohlleben describes this process vividly in his book “The hidden life of trees”.

One of his remarks is “Some people put down tons of money for whale watching trips. Yet we don’t know anything about the largest living creatures on land, trees.”

Several lawyers are fighting for legal status for trees, so that action can be taken if trees are treated badly.

Monoculture is also disastrous in forests. Trees of different species and ages next to each other provide greater biodiversity, and also better-quality wood.

The benefits of trees

Regulate water cycle

Trees evaporate the water they use into the air thus making sure the atmosphere around it is humid. The moist air rises further, forming clouds, from which rain eventually falls, which the tree can drink again.

A perfect cycle, taking care of our need for freshwater. Deforestation disrupts this process severely.

Related: What are the Positive Effects of Deforestation or are the Negative Effects Worse?

Provide jobs

Click A Tree Mangrove

Researchers, permaculture farmers, biologists, foresters, loggers, lumberjacks. Lots of people have jobs because of the trees. Besides these kinds of regular occupations, many jobs are created by reforestation organizations for local communities.


Burning wood is unhealthy. The smoke from a wood fire always contains harmful substances, such as carcinogenic hydrocarbons, particulate matter, benzene, and carbon monoxide.

This makes timber unsuitable as fuel. Yet wood is an excellent raw material for furniture, paper, and houses.

Habitat for wildlife

Have you read the story about the elephants that left their habitat in China and moved through the country, causing a lot of damage? They probably went on the move because they decided their living area wasn’t sufficient anymore.

The elephants are big enough to make a stand, but there are many smaller animals, insects, and birds that just go extinct without anyone noticing.

Improve soil quality

Trees communicate with each other

Trees extract CO2 from the air as well as from the soil. From the deeper layers, they bring nutrients up with their roots.

A healthy forest provides space for shrubs and smaller plants. Together with the leaves that fall in autumn, the ground becomes rich in humus and excellent soil for biodiversity and agriculture.

Prevent soil erosion

The roots hold the soil so that the surface does not erode. Trees on slopes prevent mudslides and mangrove forests off the coast prevent flooding from the sea.

Related: What is Permaculture Farming, and Why can it Save Biodiversity?

Food source

Fruit trees and nut trees provide a lot of healthy food for us and the animals. The inhabitants of the blue zones mainly live on a plant-based diet and thrive. Many essential oils are based on parts of the trees, such as leaves, bark, twigs, or flowers.

Related: The 8 Most Important Essential Oils Everyone Should Have

Battle climate change

Trees purify the air, improve soil quality, prevent erosion, and many other things. As a result, they create microclimates around themselves, but also contribute to solutions for the climate crisis.

Fight noise pollution

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Trees act as a natural noise barrier. They muffle the sound, which is beneficial to people (like me) who get sick from the racket, and to animals that live in trees.

Combat light pollution

In the same way that trees dampen sound, they are a barrier to artificial light. Bats, moths, and other nocturnal animals are disturbed by the street lamps that burn all night.

Provide oxygen

The photosynthesis in tree leaves converts CO2 into oxygen. The Amazon is currently emitting more CO2 than oxygen from targeted forest fires.

The trees are being destroyed to make way for soy and meat production. For years this is a reason for Tom and me not to eat soy or meat.

Clean the air

Infographic: Trees are vital to the world

A tree absorbs pollutants (nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, and ozone) and filters them from the air by trapping them in its leaves and bark.

Cool the air

We notice it when Tom and I walk in the nature park close by but even more when we walk in a city. There is a huge difference in temperature between walking in the sun or walking in the shade of trees. Even the shade of buildings can’t beat that.

Create small ecosystems

Even solitary trees have their own ecosystem, but you can imagine that this applies even more to an entire forest.

Heal us

When the Dutch princess Irene divorced her Spanish husband and came back to the Netherlands, many people laughed at her because she said she found so much peace by talking to trees.

Yet it is something you often hear people say. If you are struggling with yourself, go into the woods and let nature – literally – do its work.

City dwellers with a park nearby where they walk daily are more comfortable than their fellow residents who surround themselves with concrete all day long.

Bring people together

Tree on an open space in the woods

The first Dutch village where Tom and I lived had an old tree in the market square called Moeierboom (the mother tree).

This Tilia was planted around 1675 and is supported in various places because the branches break off otherwise. It is a popular place for both young and old to sit on the bench, meet people, and chat.

Are teachers and playmates

Climbing a tree, making a treehouse, and discovering which critters live in the tree. These are wonderful experiences that children have when they are lucky enough to live near trees.


‘The lonely tree’ is a special subject in photography. “And then turn left at that high tree”. How often would trees appear in directions?


Click a Tree, the easiest way to plant trees
Click a Tree, the easiest way to plant trees

I can’t count the times I have drawn a tree. I have studied at the Academy of Art, so you can imagine why. There are beautiful pollard willows in south Limburg, a province of the Netherlands. Crooked trees. Branches, leaves, enough to study on. Just beautiful!


The IPCC report of last week makes the dramatic situation of the world very clear. Are we just going to continue changing the climate? Are there really still people who deny climate change?

Apart from an occasional fruit tree, I will no longer plant trees in our garden. However, I will continue to plant trees. There are several organizations that accommodate such a service. While saving the environment, they also provide jobs for locals and often try to save endangered animals as well.

My organization of choice is Click-a-Tree. I like the enthusiasm of founder Chris Kaiser and the way they keep their planters engaged with information and the possibility of naming the trees (so far I have named a tree Diego, the other one Alex, after my grandsons. More will follow). Yet, any organization is fine, of course, as long as lots of people join in.

Have you planted a tree? Tell us in the comment box below.

4 thoughts on “19 Reasons Why Trees are Vital to the World, including Us”

  1. An amazing article to read! Since the beginning of the earth, trees have furnished us with two of life’s essentials, food, and oxygen. Trees provide oxygen and limit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They also reduce air pollution, provide food and shelter for wildlife, maintain healthy soil, increase rainfall, and absorb sunlight as energy.

    • Thanks, Anna. I am not quite sure it was from the actual beginning of the earth but I know what you mean and you’re right. I am glad you enjoy trees as much as I do. 🙂
      Take care and stay healthy.

  2. You really attacked all angles here, Hannie, I always learn so much from your articles! I live in a busy city with ever expanding buildings and it truly saddens me to see so many green corners being mauled to make room for another construction site.

    • I can imagine, Lauren, trees are magnificent, yet for so many people an ordinary thing they hardly notice anymore. And if these are people that are in places where they have the power to make decisions, it can even be worse. It is such a pity the trees in your town are disappearing.

      Thanks for your compliment and comment, Lauren, it’s highly appreciated.


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