As the construction boom slows and the idea of sustainable development grows, the Natural Resources Conservation Service was kind enough to release a list reminding us just how useful and important trees can be in our lives. And while we are cheating a bit as bamboo is technically a plant, consider that bamboo is a plant that acts very much like a tree in many instances. And rather than planting a forest in your backyard, a bamboo garden has the definite advantage of being easier to grow and maintain.
10 Ways to Use Trees (and some Bamboo)
- Cut soil erosion
Rows of trees break the wind on flatter lands and healthy forests protect soil from water erosion on hillsides. Soil erosion causes the loss of nutrient-rich topsoil and leaves the land vulnerable to flooding. Bamboo is being looked at as a solution to soil erosion issues in Indonesia, Haiti and even the United States. Check back next Monday to learn more.
- Improve air & water quality
A forest floor of leaves and decaying wood acts as a giant sponge by absorbing, holding and filtering water. One acre of trees provides fresh, clean oxygen for seven people and will clean the air polluted by eight cars operated for 12 hours. The bamboo plant is even more incredible for providing oxygen – a grove of bamboo releases 35% more oxygen than an equivalent strand of trees.
- Increase income
A group of properly managed trees can provide excellent sources of income either from tree sales or the making of wood products. If you’re interested in starting your own bamboo nursery, the bamboo plant is a sturdy and easy to manage choice for beginners. Aside from increasing your own income, the bamboo plant itself might change the economy of many struggling countries.
- Save energy
A recent study shows that windbreaks can reduce winter fuel consumption by 10 to 30 percent. Trees also save energy by shading — one tree has the cooling effect of five air conditioners.
- Protect livestock
Trees reduce the wind and can significantly reduce animal stress. Livestock not only need less feed, but their gains are higher. Shade provided by trees is also helpful to animals during these hot summer days happening across the country.
- Sound barrier
Trees and windbreaks reduce noise from high-speed traffic and other sounds. Plant leaves, branches and twigs all absorb sounds of different frequencies providing a little bit of peace in this very noisy world.
- Home for wildlife
Wooded areas create valuable cover, nesting and breeding areas for upland game and songbirds. In winter, when all other food is blanketed with snow, seeds and fruits of trees and shrubs provide food for non-migratory species. Bamboo serves the same purpose for wildlife including the dwindling bee population. And while it’s not wildlife, bamboo is becoming a more popular choice for housing humans too. Whether it’s a school building, a vacation hut or an emergency shelter, the bamboo plant is a strong and efficient choice.
- Living snow fence
If you live in snow country, properly locating a living fence of trees and shrubs parallel to your driveway or highway helps hold snow on the fields and off the roads.
- Improve crop yields
Soil particles blown by strong winds frequently damage small crops. Yields also may be lowered by the effects of hot winds. Trees protect against these hazards.
- Beautify the countryside
Well-kept wooded areas, windbreaks and other tree plantings undeniably enhance the aesthetic value of individual farms and the countryside. Bamboo is itself is a beautiful plant!
And one more thing to add on to this list – just as trees provide fibers for various uses (think paper), the bamboo plant provides a fiber that is used to make soft and silky fabrics. The bamboo plant provides for bamboo clothes, bamboo bath towels and even bamboo bed linens.
So there’s no need to wait for Arbor Day – get started planting to take advantage of the many benefits of trees and bamboo plants!