Arbor Day (or Arbour, Latin meaning tree) is a day on which people are encouraged to plant trees. The holiday is observed in spring, which is fitting as that is the season where things start to bloom and grow.
In 1594, in the Spanish village of Mondoñedo, their mayor held an arbor plantation festival. This festival is recognized as the first ever Arbor Day. There is a marker which commemorates the event in teh town (now known as Alameda de los Remedios). The first “true” Arbor Day was organized in 1805 in the Spanish village of Villanueva de la Sierra by the local priest, Don Ramón Vacas Roxo. According to Wiki: “While Napoleon was ravaging Europe with his ambition in this village in the Sierra de Gata lived a priest, don Ramón Vacas Roxo, which, according to the chronicles, “convinced of the importance of trees for health, hygiene, decoration, nature, environment and customs, decides to plant trees and give a festive air. The festival began on Carnival Tuesday with the ringing of two bells of the church, and the Middle and the Big. After the Mass, and even coated with church ornaments, don Ramón, accompanied by clergies, teachers and a large number of neighbours, planted the first tree, a poplar, in the place known as Valley of the Ejido. Tree plantations continued by Arroyada and Fuente de la Mora. Afterwards, there was a feast, and did not miss the dance. The party and plantations lasted three days. He drafted a manifesto in defence of the trees that was sent to surrounding towns to spread the love and respect for nature, and also he advised to make tree plantations in their localities. — Miguel Herrero Uceda, Arbor Day”
And, viola! The first recorded tree hugger!
The tradition of celebrating Arbor Day made its way to the United States in 1872 when on April 10th, approximately one million trees were planted in Nebraska. A gentleman from Connecticut, Birdsey Northrop, was tasked by the American Forestry Association to be the chairman of their committee to make Arbor Day a nationwide event. Currently, Arbor Day is celebrated on the fourth Friday of every April in the United States.
The Arbor Day Foundation is an excellent resource for the holiday, trees and how you can impactfully celebrate the holiday. They also have a nice history booklet along with historical pictures here: https://www.arborday.org/celebrate/history.cfm
So, to celebrate, I thought I would give you a few facts about trees:
- Trees remove pollution from the atmosphere, improving air quality and human health. In Greater Kansas City, trees remove 26,000 tons of air pollution each year.
- Roadside trees reduce nearby indoor air pollution by more than 50%.
- A study of 10 cities found community forests save an average of one life each year. In New York City, trees save an average of eight lives every year.
- Office workers with a view of trees report significantly less stress and more satisfaction.
- One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.
- More than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest
- Forested watersheds provide quality drinking water to more than 180 million Americans.
- In 1997, New York City spent $1.5 billion to preserve the forested watershed that supplies New York City’s drinking water by purchasing thousands of upstate acres of forested watershed. A filtration plant large enough to clean New York City’s water supply would have cost more than $6 billion dollars.
- Trees lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade. Shaded surfaces may be 20–45°F cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded materials.
- Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), removing and storing the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air.
- Carefully positioned trees can reduce a household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling by up to 25%. Computer models devised by the U.S. Department of Energy predict that the proper placement of only three trees can save an average household between $100 and $250 in energy costs annually.
- In Portland, Oregon, homes with street trees sold for $7,130 more, on average, and 1.7 days more quickly.
- When lost, it is possible to use trees to assist you in navigation. In northern temperate climates, moss will grow on the northern side of the tree trunk, where it is shadier. Failing that, if you find a tree that has been cut down, you can observe the rings of the tree to discover which direction north is. In the northern hemisphere, the rings of growth in a tree trunk are slightly thicker on the southern side, which receives more light. The converse is true in the southern hemisphere.
My favorite tree right now? The one in my backyard:
Do you have an interesting tree fact or take random pictures of trees (like me)? Let me know in the comments below!