A staggering 50 acres of trees are lost in Atlanta daily. Tree loss affects our environment in many ways, including a decrease in the qualities of our air, water, and even our lives. In the past ten years, tree loss in the metro Atlanta area resulted in water runoff that had to be treated in sewage systems – at a price tag of $2 billion. According to calculations by NASA, “heat islands” occur in areas with less tree cover, creating a three-to-five degree rise in air temperature. The added heat may even create miniature weather patterns.

Gwinnett continues to be one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. Ironically, however, removing trees may eventually slow growth and development. The extra runoff puts extra strains on our sewer systems. Hotter temperatures accelerate ozone formation, making it more difficult to meet federal Clean Air standards. Obviously, it is in our best interest to protect our trees and educate others about the importance of trees.

Trees can

  • Slash bills. A house shaded by trees costs about half as much to cool in the summer as a house with a barren lot. In the winter, trees block winds and reduce the winter “chill factor,” resulting in an average $50 decrease in heating costs.
  • Boost property value. Trees can increase the value of your home by as much as 20 percent, and houses with wooded lots tend to sell faster.
  • Create air. In one day, an acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe.
  • Clean air. The sugar maple tree can remove as much as 5,200 mg of lead from the environment. Trees lessen the impact of automobile-caused air pollution by absorbing potentially harmful particles.
  • Create Quiet. Every 100 feet of forest reduces noise by seven decibels.
  • Prevent Flooding. Trees absorb excess rainwater, reducing flooding and ground erosion in your yard.
  • Improve water quality. Trees filter out sediments and pollutants from rainwater, improving the quality and safety of groundwater we use for everyday needs.

How can you help?

  • Follow proper planting techniques and avoid driveways, streets, sidewalks or patios.
  • Avoid positioning trees too close to homes; roots that run into foundations will be killed.
  • Prevent tree damage by not using weed trimmers around trees.
  • Remove parasitic vines on trees.
  • Water trees well in dry months using a soaker hose.
  • If you suspect illegal tree clearing, ask questions right away.
  • If needed, contact your county arborist at (770) 822-7500.
  • Get involved in development processes early by attending public meetings
  • Visit www.arborday.org for more information about trees and proper planting tips.