Miami-Dade County, long known for its famous beaches and warm winters, is surprisingly lacking in any significant tree cover. A 2008 tree cover analysis by University of Florida and the county’s Environment Resources Management department showed that Miami-Dade’s urban areas averaged only 12% tree cover. By way of comparison, other urban areas in the country have as much as a 35% tree canopy.
So here are the top twelve reasons we should all adopt a tree or two each year from Miami-Dade County’s “Adopt-a-Tree” program:
- Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, helping to reduce greenhouse gases. As part of its growing process, a tree absorbs and retains carbon dioxide in its wood, roots and leaves. One acre of trees can remove up to 2.6 tons of Carbon Dioxide each year, or the amount of CO2 produced by a car driven 26,000 miles.
- Trees purify the air and provide oxygen. The same way trees absorb carbon dioxide, they also help filter pollutant particulates out of the air – trapping them on their leaves and bark – while releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. An average shade tree creates enough oxygen for a family of four each year.
- Trees clean the soil. Trees filter sewage and chemicals, help reduce the effects of animal wastes, and help clean water runoff from roads and farms before the water gets into our rivers and streams. Trees can store the harmful pollutants or even change the chemicals into less harmful forms.
- Trees help reduce flooding by absorbing excess rain-water and slowing storm-water runoff. This helps underground aquifers recharge and reduces the load on city storm drain systems. Trees also help prevent soil erosion by binding the soil with their roots, and breaking the force of wind and rain on the soil below the tree.
- Trees reduce home air-conditioning costs by providing shade. Just three strategically placed trees around a single-family home can reduce summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent! And by reducing the energy demand for air conditioning, trees help reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.
- Trees can help increase a property’s real estate value by 15% or more, while a good landscape improves a home’s curb appeal. Shade from trees also slows water evaporation from grass lawns, reducing the need for sprinklers.
- Trees can also reduce city street temperatures. “Studies have shown that parts of cities without cooling shade from trees can literally be “heat islands” with temperatures as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit higher than surrounding areas.”
- Trees control noise pollution. “Trees muffle urban noise almost as effectively as stone walls. Trees planted at strategic points in a neighborhood or around your house, can abate major noises from freeways and airports.”
- Trees shield people from ultra-violet rays. Tree canopy can reduce UV-B exposure by about 50 percent, helping to prevent skin cancer – the most common form of cancer in the United States and an important consideration in South Florida.
- Trees provide food. It’s mango season in Miami! As anyone who lives in Miami can attest, trees provide us with an annual abundance of fresh mangoes, avocados, longdon, and more – and Miami-Dade County is giving them away for FREE!
- Trees improve community cohesiveness. Studies have shown that neighborhoods barren of trees have a greater incidence of violence than their greener counterparts. Trees also help reduce stress and mental fatigue, while increasing our ability to heal. Trees can give a neighborhood a new identity, encourage civic pride, and even increase business traffic. “Studies show that the more trees and landscaping a business district has, the more business will flow in. A tree-lined street will also slow traffic – enough to allow the drivers to look at the store fronts instead of whizzing by.”
- Trees provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife, even in an urban setting, providing homes for birds, bees, possums and squirrels.
The Miami-Dade County “Adopt-a-Tree” program is specifically designed to increase our community’s tree canopy, so the free trees are species that will make good shade trees. The program includes native “ornamental” shade trees and a variety of non-citrus fruit trees. The “Adopt-a-Tree” program was started in 2001 with almost 164,000 trees distributed to Miami-Dade County residents. For information on how you can adopt a tree or two this month, check out this article at Melanie in Miami: “Did You Know You Can Get Two FREE Trees Per Year in Miami-Dade County?”