All civilization depends on trees for our survival. Humans are dependent upon trees, not only for cleaning our air but also because they support our precious ecosystem. Our ecosystems rely on trees to help reduce soil erosion, prevent flooding and droughts. These all have a downstream effect when it comes to also improving the lives of humans who rely on soil to grow food and healthy water to drink.
Check out these fast facts about how trees help with soil conservation:
Trees Reduce Soil Erosion
Trees can naturally prevent soil erosion through their root systems and canopies. Trees have large root systems that help bind the soil together around the tree. The root systems not only help to stabilize the tree, but it also helps with drainage. The root systems prevent water from staying on the surface level and pulls it into the ground. The canopies of trees also reduce the impact of water forcefully onto the ground. Instead, the leaves and the trunks both act as a buffer to slow down the rain. The ability for the canopy to act as a buffer allows for a slower drainage once the rain reaches the ground.
Trees Prevent Flooding
Trees drink a lot of water. In fact, an average tree can consume about 100 gallons out of the ground and discharge it into the air. It’s not too surprising then that trees are a natural defense against flooding.
Flooding happens when heavy rains causes rivers or streams to burst their banks. When flooding happens, trees are able to absorb some of that moisture and excess water before it flows into rivers or even drainage systems. Essentially, trees act as a buffer.
Aside from taking in a lot of water, trees also change the soil structure. Leaves that are shed from the tree, dead branches, and bark create organic matter. This type of matter allows the soil to hold more water. Also, the little microbes that eat them create tiny tunnels in the soil, helps water seep in more effectively.
Trees Prevent Droughts
As we’ve learned above, trees play a vital role in the cycle of water. One of those roles is helping to protect our soil against extreme drought. Trees have an ability to hold in lots of water from rain, they also release that moisture back into the air in a process called transpiration. Trees have the ability to capture rain through their leaves which gets evaporated back into the air to form rain clouds. In fact, much of the rain is driven by this process.
Trees Add to Soil Fertility
Trees drop leaves and dead branches, which contribute to the health of the soil. These types of organic matter will add nutrients to the soil and provide fertility for surrounding plant life. When they begin to decompose, microbes and insects feed off of them too. The soil becomes even richer when other animals come to feed off the insects and other plants become more established. This cycle contributes to an even richer soil fertility.
Trees are Important for Human Survival
If you take a look around the room you’re sitting in, most likely many of the materials around you were contributed by trees. The home you live in, the mail you get, the furniture you sit on all comes from trees! Aside from offering us protection from the outside elements, trees also offer food and medicinal benefits.