Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Chris Gass
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

The beauty of trees

The Green Guy


If you’re like me, late spring and early summer are a favorite time of the year. It’s comfortable to be out of the house and opportunities abound during such a mild season. It’s a treat to get outdoors and I’m of the opinion that you don’t need to travel beyond city limits to find this delight. For me, nearby neighborhood streets are where I make my rounds passing through those I know and sometimes those I do not. All of it being part of the fun in getting some fresh air and taking some time to observe.

Of all the streets I’ve taken, I find that those I come back to are always abundant in trees. Personally, I am captivated by trees not only because they can be these larger than life structures that so gracefully exist, but also because of the influence they have on a landscape whether that be soil, water, wildlife, or micro-climates. Outside of my own bias though, plenty of research and studies suggests that we lean towards well vegetated urban spaces for recreation activities and have a preference overall for living in areas that resemble or incorporate our natural surroundings. For our neck of the woods and much of the country, that means trees and urban forests.

So, we can maybe scratch the obvious for our preference: aesthetics and shade. Trees along a street or in our yard really add a unique visual element with contrast, texture, shape, and color. Easily observed too is the shade provided by a well-established canopy alleviating the harsh sun and blocking the intense light. However, I might argue there’s a whole host of secondary benefits that are less readily acknowledged but still amply appreciated.

I think first of noise filtering. I cannot think of a bigger disruption for me in town than the sound of road noise. The abrupt harshness of traffic, passing cars, broken exhausts, sporadic stints of blaring music and the general mix of simply racket. I’m not a fan, and it’s often dramatic how removed I feel from it all when I make my way into one of these sheltered corridors. Moreover, that filtering effect has the accompanying benefit of highlighting “good” noise: the songs and chirps of birds, the rustle of leaves, or the general sound of silence. It’s relieving just thinking about.

Mentioning birds, another great benefit beyond their chirps is their voracious appetite for insects. Some may eat several hundred to upwards of a thousand insects a day. Trees too provide habitat for other insect eaters like bats while also expanding the general bounds of the local ecosystem. More trees mean more places to perch, live, or watch from which can mean less buzzing and bites while outdoors.

The list can go on. We could dive into the benefit for pollinators and the better flowers through the year as a result or the capturing and treating of stormwater, better air quality, greener lawns, and so forth. Instead, I’ll suggest that you take a moment outside and just go for a walk. Along the way, see what the trees provide to you and the bigger impact this might have for your community.


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