Trees are the thread of the forest

National Tree Day

Today on National Tree Day 2021 Australia, I wanted to focus on how trees are key components of the forest and a very special part of our planet ecosystems.

Sclerophyll forest – Darug Country Hornsby area NSW

Tree structure

Trees have unique and very recognisable structural features. We all implicitly know by looking at trees; their special features such trunks, roots, branches and leaves. As flowering plants they also will flower at least once a year attracting animals for their pollen and nectar.

Tree processes

Trees have many fundamental processes that help life on our planet.

Using chlorophyll pigments in leaves; trees are able to produce their own food through photosynthesis. and are thereby autotrophs,. Photosynthesis helps to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) to oxygen (O2).

Water is absorbed through tree root systems and then carried through to the leaves where it is transpired through stomates in the leaf surface. Transpiration is an integral step in the water cycle which governs the continual recycling of water on the planet.

Pollination is a reproductive process where flowering plants are able to reproduce and create seeds to continue their life cycle. Pollination can occur where animals; particularly birds and insects transfer pollen from one flower to another. A pollen tube grows from a pollen grain and fertilises the flower ovary and produces seed. Some trees will be pollinated by the wind.

Morning mist over Eucalyptus forest Darug Country near Hornsby NSW

Storing carbon

Trees have a role to play in storing carbon and helping with global warming. Trees help to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in carbon sinks; such as in the plant material, roots and the surrounding soil particularly in forest ecosystems.

Cooling our cities

As trees transpire they cool the air around them and provide shade. These vegetated areas can reduce temperatures in urban heat islands. Planting trees helps cool the planet.

Trees as habitat

Whilst not immediately obvious trees are home to so many animals both big and small. Trunk hollows provide nesting habitat for birds, branches are home to possum and bird nests. insects can be found under bark and under the soil and also amongst the root systems. Flowers attract birds and insects, rotting logs can have a diverse variety of insects livign below the soil.

Bird visiting Eucalyptus tree for food and water. Ganguddy Swamp Wiradjuri Country

Community health and wellbeing

Being amongst nature and appreciating its benefits helps our wellbeing. The visual delights of trees are soothing and calming and research is highlighting how time in nature and nature prescriptions are vital to reducing stress and improving mental health.

Giving back

As we can see trees give back to us everyday. They are the thread to the life of the forest. By giving back and connecting to the Country we are on – we are helping the planet.

  • Find out what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Country you are on. Acknowledge this every time you take time in nature. The deep knowledge of Aboriginal Elders and Ancestors has made Australian environments the special places they are. Take part in a local cultural walk with an Aboriginal Elder to learn more.
  • Tend to the forests you visit. Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints. However pick up rubbish you see and set an example to others who visit.
  • Learn more about the environments near you. What plants and trees are naturally found in your location? When do they flower and fruit? What animal species occur in your area.
  • Build your citizen science skills and try your hand at sharing what local plant and animal species you find.
  • And of course plant a tree, this is a great step to help improve your garden or local space. Find out if there is a plant you can source from your local council for free and look for a local landcare or bushcare group to join.
A tray of fresh tube stock natives ready for tree planting. Glenmore Park Greening Australia community planting. Darug Country

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