What is the Worth of a Tree?

Hannah A Reynolds quote

What is the worth of a tree? The price tag at the garden center tells you $28.95. The acorn is proof that they’re free, but the desert tells you that a tree is priceless. A tree is more than a standing piece of timber soon to be the paper you may see this writing on or the table you eat at. A tree is more than the aesthetic that you may see as someone’s wallpaper. The price of a tree has many answers but without them is the real cost.

This Earth provides a finite amount of valuable and major resources that we as a species have depleted and exploited: one of them being the land and timber of trees. We have unwittingly launched a competition to see how much carbon our atmosphere can hold, to see how much pollution we can clog in our oceans, to see how much of Earth’s ineffable beauty we can erase in our lifetime, and this battle will leave no winner. We call this competition climate change and deny its effects because of its financial burden and our desire for products that we hold as the trophy.

As the human population rises along with the global temperature, more land is converted for agricultural use: leaving once fertile land to become vulnerable to the irreversible effects of desertification. Brazil has deforested 20% of its Amazon Rainforest to make room for beef production. The soil has been left to erode as tree roots no longer anchor the soil exposing it to wind, rain, and other sources of weathering. Losing its nutrients, the soil lacks the ability to support vegetation thus creating an environment that mimics the desert. As the lush forests dwindle and the deserts expand, we’ll realize the immense value of a tree but the degradation will leave us with a massive bill.

Although a single tree cannot contend nor can a whole forest, it is an audacious effort in the battle. Trees are a potent stratagem in securing the natural state of an ecosystem. The roots stabilize the soil they’re buried in: preventing soil erosion. Through the process of photosynthesis, the trees are capable of sequestering carbon dioxide that we emit into the atmosphere mitigating the effects of climate change. A tree provides habitat for countless species and resources for just as many. Trees support the industry of ecotourism as we use their beauty for profit. The services a tree provides is only magnified in their quantity. The first step in the restoration of forests begins with validating their importance. 

When the forests are in a tree deficit, reforestation is an investment that humans wield as the solution. If the right species of trees are planted in large amounts across the planet, the impacts of their absence can be allayed, degradation will be halted, and deforestation can be corrected. However, reforestation isn’t a simple concept. To better improve its influence and desired capability, further research on the ideal native tree to plant in an area based on its topography, climate, and soil composition must be considered. Native plants are adapted with environmental benefits to their habitat improving their likelihood of survival when compared to nonnative tree species while also providing support to wildlife in the form of habitat and food sources. In doing so, the health and productivity of the forests is maximized. Once the awareness of how reforestation is executed, one can design the optimal plan of action of how to rectify the consequences caused by deforestation.

Planting one tree may seem trivial, and cutting one down won’t be detrimental, but it’s never just one. One tree cannot supply the mass of consumers, and one tree cannot sustain the ecosystem, but the world has been testing this failed hypothesis. Millions of hectares of trees are being harvested annually but not replanted at the same rate leaving the world to pay the cost of their absence. Some assert that the worth of a tree is determined by the number on the price tag while it can be free under the right resources, but as deforestation continues unimpeded it would seem as though the desert was right. A tree is priceless.

Scholarship Essay by Hannah A Reynolds

UCA’s most recent Scholarship Essay Contest for High School Juniors and Seniors officially ended on May 15, 2020.  While the theme has always been to explore ways to make a more caring world, our most recent  Essay Contest specifically asked how they would make a more caring world in one of four categories  – Children – Animals – Reforestation – Elderly.  The winning essays have been posted and awards distributed. 

Because there were so many impressive essays submitted from across the U.S., we decided to share many of these students’ inspiring caring actions with you in this publication. Through their essays, the students provide a refreshing insight into their minds and hearts, offering an in depth view of our world that we often overlook. They take us on a journey rich in knowledge, personal experience and creative solutions.  It is our hope you will feel as informed and inspired as we do. We are proud to present to you the writings, thoughts and dreams for a more caring future through these articles.