While yesterday was National Tree Day, this entire week is National Forestry Week, so I think that it is fitting that we celebrate the not-insignificant contribution that trees make to our standard of living here in Canada on this occasion.

Besides, here at CTV we have something rather extraordinary to celebrate that is rather personal: the 40th anniversary of Canada AM. 

It occurs to me that we often use tree plantings to celebrate special occasions -- the birth of a baby, the opening of a new building, the dedication of a park or the memory of a person of significance. Why do you suppose that is?  I think it’s because we cannot live without them.  

Now a tree will never tell you this, which is why we so often cut them down.  They don’t squeal when they fall.  In fact, if there is a flaw in the personality of trees it is that they do not advertise.  So allow me to do some on their behalf.

What are the benefits of trees?

Societal.  A well-treed street slows cars, increases pedestrian traffic and encourages kids to get out of the house and (God forbid!) play some street hockey.  Therein lies part of the answer to the question about childhood obesity.  

Economic.  Get a picture in your mind of a great city.  One, perhaps, that you like to visit.   Now imagine the same city without trees.  For most of us the picture is of asphalt, concrete and steel, which is not pretty.  Also consider the importance of tourism and jobs that are attached to trees such as tree planters, arborists, landscapers and maintenance personnel. 

Health and Wellness.  A recent study by Trees Ontario proved that a healthy urban tree canopy reduces the occurrence of cancer, diabetes, lung disease and even ADHD in children.  Go to Trees Ontario for the details and click on “A Healthy Dose of Green.”

Ecological.  Trees produce oxygen, cool the atmosphere, filter toxins out of rain water and consume carbon dioxide. The list goes on and on.  

On the first sunny day this fall take a blanket and a picnic to a nearby park and get to know a tree.  You will feel so much better for it.

Mark Cullen