Nature’s Hardest Worker

Blog by Karen Martens, OPA

Have you ever focused upon a tree as the object for contemplation? For example, an oak tree would be a wonderful living organism upon which to gaze. Or perhaps a beautiful red maple in the fall, or a blooming redbud in the spring. In the winter, we have the opportunity to see the structure of trees in their strength and glory. Do you appreciate all that they do? What must it be like to be a tree? Did you know trees communicate with one another? It has been said that they are “amazingly efficient machines, constantly working to make Earth a healthier planet.” How do they make a difference?

Trees improve air quality, reduce flooding and erosion, sequester carbon, conserve energy, cool the air while reducing humidity, create essential habitats for plants and animals, reduce crime, reduce noise pollution, promote health, and can even promote community between people. Whew! I’m impressed; are you?

Cities have begun to pay attention to all these benefits and are taking steps to protect and expand their tree canopies. They recognize the importance of planting trees and that it is most important not to cut down mature trees. It takes several years for a tree to be most effective. Do you know the percentage of the tree canopy where you live? It is 22% in Columbus Ohio where I live, with a range between 9% to 41% in different neighborhoods. It is not surprising that lower-income neighborhoods with a history of redlining have the lowest tree canopies. This is likely true for all big cities.

My favorite tree is the oak. Over 500 species of butterflies and moths are supported by native oaks. Oak acorns provide food for more than 100 vertebrate species of wildlife and the trunk and branches provide shelter for many mammals and bird species. They can live several hundred years and are beautiful! What is not to like about such a tree?

My trees speak to me… about yours? What are they saying?


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

3 responses to “Nature’s Hardest Worker

  1. When I was on sabbatical at Berakah in NH and at Heartland Farm in Kansas, I saw pictures of various kinds in the tree trunk. It gave me many moments of meditation.

  2. Karen, you’re way ahead of me. I learn so much from my fellow associates.
    Thank you for sharing! I love trees but now I know much more about them and love them more!

  3. Karen, I liked your reflection very much. I have many tree friends and favorites. My favorite is the beech tree. Her branches make me see her as a ballerina. She keeps her leaves all winter, feeds many animals and wears colorful tutus according to the time of the year. Thanks for sharing.

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