Olympia’s Thoughts: To tree or not to tree

Researcher in forest

In dealing with the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar, as we get out the chainsaws to unblock our driveways and haul away debris, many of us may be thinking I am NOT planting any more trees!


Here is a rationale of why we need to plant trees not only for their beauty, but also because of the important ecological services they provide.


Animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, trees do the exact opposite of this. Trees oxygenate the air we breathe, their roots protect the soil from erosion, absorb water to help prevent flooding, and they provide us with delicious fruits.


Trees also provide habitat for birds and other animals, insects, plants, as well as regulate temperature with their shade. Their limbs provide great places for rope swings and their wood is used for making homes, furniture, sculptures and more.


The beauty of trees brings joy to our psyche. To sit beneath a tree and look up into the leafy crown inspires and brings relief from the heat of the day.


In planting trees, it is best to put the right tree in the right place. Planting trees too close to a house means trouble for the homeowner and the tree. Another thing to consider is where electrical lines or water pipes may be underground. Knowing the size of the mature tree before you plant is important. It may be perfect when it is first planted, but in 15 or 20 years, what will it become?


Planting native trees rather than trees that may become invasive is key to keeping our island free of plants that could be detrimental to our island ecosystems. CIS Associate Director, Else Demeulenaere, recommends several native trees for planting including da’ok (Calophyllum inophyllum), ifit (Intsia bijuga), and the shrubs nanåso (Scaevola sericea) and guåsale (Bikkia taccada).

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