In 1872, newspaper editor J. Sterling Morton proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture that a special day be set aside for the planting of trees. The holiday was first observed with the planting of more than a million trees in Nebraska, and now Arbor Day is observed throughout the nation and the world.

“Arbor Day is not like other holidays, each of those (holidays) reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future. Each generation takes the Earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed,” said Morton.

Garrison commander, Col. Jeffrey Sanborn, recently signed the Arbor Day Proclamation to declare Friday, as Fort Bragg Arbor Day this year. The Arbor Day Proclamation urges all citizens to celebrate Arbor Day and to support efforts to protect our trees and woodlands. The proclamation further encourages individuals to plant and care for trees to gladden the heart and promote the well-being of this and future generations.

Why should you support efforts to protect our trees and woodlands?

First, trees are an important renewable resource. Many of the goods that we consistently consume are produced from trees and tree components such as bark and a wood fiber called cellulose. More than 6,000 products derive from trees – wood, food, paper and textiles … everything from pencils to maple syrup, from tempered glass to aspirin and from tires to toothpaste. Unlike other materials such as petroleum, trees can be replenished in a reasonable time through naturally occurring processes.

Trees also enhance our health and the environment. They provide oxygen and remove pollutants from the air. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that one acre of forest emits four tons of oxygen and absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that degrades air quality.

In addition, trees can reduce erosion by wind and water. Topsoil erosion impedes the growth and health of plants, including food crops that generally concentrate their roots in and obtain most of their nutrients from this layer of soil. The roots of trees hold the soil in place and draw water from the soil to prevent the devastating loss of this important element of our environment.

Trees moderate the ambient temperature by evaporating water in the air through their leaves. They provide shade in the summer, and they can impede cold wind in the winter. Thus, they can reduce heating and cooling costs. According to the U.S. Forest Service, strategically placed trees can reduce air conditioning and heating needs by as much as 50 percent.

Trees can enrich the community, too. They increase the economic vitality of business areas and according to the USFS, trees can increase property values by as much as 20 percent. Trees contribute to the natural aesthetics of a location, enhance architectural designs, provide privacy, reduce the urban heat island effect and act as sound barriers. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency states that trees can reduce noise pollution by 50 percent and replace bothersome noises with natural, more pleasant sounds. Trees can even hold sentimental value and they can serve as living memorials of events and people.

Most importantly, trees are vital to the success of our ecosystem. They provide habitat and food for wildlife and they increase biodiversity. Trees, specifically longleaf pines, are especially critical to the Fort Bragg ecosystem because they are an essential element of the lands upon which our Soldiers train to maintain mission readiness.

Interesting tree facts

The tallest tree in the world is a coast redwood in California that measures 369 feet tall.
  The oldest trees in the world are bristlecone pines that are 4,600 years old.
  There are about 20,000 species of trees in the world.
  Trees grow from the top – not from the bottom. The branches will move up the trunk only a few inches in a tree’s life.
  On average, a tree in an urban environment lives only eight years.
  The practice of counting growth rings to determine the age of a tree is called dendrochronology. Growth rings can determine not only the age of a tree, but they can also provide information about significant environmental events such as drought, epic rainfall and volcanic eruption.
  “Knocking on wood” to garner luck originated from a primitive tree worshipping culture in which rapping on trees was believed to summon protective spirits.
  The pine is the state tree of North Carolina. Some species of pine is the official state tree of nine other states, too.

For more information on trees and Arbor Day, visit the Arbor Day Foundation at www.arborday.org. Visit www.sustainablefortbragg.com.