Column: Plant trees, reap benefits

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Commentary by Cindy Muse

Close your eyes and picture the canopy of trees as you drive on River Road or the sweeping sugar maple growing in your neighbor’s yard. Trees provide peaceful beauty to our Carmel landscape, along with many other benefits.

Tree leaves absorb carbon dioxide and water and use the sun’s energy to convert these into food (sugar) for the tree. In turn, the air we need to breathe – oxygen – is produced as a byproduct and released by the tree. The tree also captures gasses that can be harmful, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

Trees moderate the effects of sun, wind and rain, lower air temperatures, improve air quality, slow soil erosion, support wildlife and biodiversity, mitigate climate change and provide an aesthetically pleasing environment for family and friends to gather under cool shade for outdoor activities. Plus, trees can lower your energy bills and increase your home’s real estate value.

Because of its dedication to preserve and grow its urban forest, the City of Carmel has been recognized as a Tree City USA for 28 years. In a 2018 study by Davey Resource Group, trees on Carmel’s public property provided $2.9 million in annual benefits in the areas of aesthetics, air quality improvement, carbon sequestration and avoidance, energy conservation and stormwater management reductions. For 2022, Carmel plans to plant another 600 to 800 large shade trees.

In addition to public area spaces, municipal zoning ordinances encourage maintaining and planting trees in residential and commercial areas. Residential subdivisions can only clear a certain percentage of woodlands for their infrastructures. Many commercial buildings are required to have buffer yards along the property borders, parking lot plantings and foundation plantings with environmentally friendly landscape designs.

So, plant trees and reap the benefits. Enjoy a summer dinner on your patio shaded by breath-giving trees.

Cindy Muse is a member of Carmel Green Initiative. Learn more about the group and share feedback at carmelgreen.org.

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