Many Africans are already feeling the effects of climate change. Not only does the daytime heat sap your energy, but it’s also hotter at night and harder to sleep. The number of droughts and floods has doubled across the continent over the past 25 years, creating natural disasters that ultimately affect everyone by reducing crop yields and livestock production.
Can planting trees help mitigate these challenges? Yes! And this year’s theme for Earth Day is “Trees for the Earth: Let’s Get Planting.” The goal is to plant 7.8 billion trees over the next four years — one for every person — in time for Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020.
Stay tuned to the yali.state.gov blog and learn how you can participate by organizing your own tree-planting activities. In the meantime, here are some reasons why restoring nearby forests and planting trees in your neighborhood will help you and your community. They provide much more than food, fuel and shelter.
- Trees directly combat climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect. One hectare of forest can offset the yearly emissions of between 333 and 417 cars.
- Trees clean the air by removing dust and absorbing pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and trapping them in their leaves and bark.
- Tree roots improve water quality by holding soil in place and preventing erosion and water runoff. They also prevent harmful chemicals from entering streams.
- Trees moderate heat by providing shade and preserve warmth by blocking strong winds. With proper placement of trees around your home, you can save 20 to 50 percent of heating expenses and reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent.
- Trees improve your mood and health. They are aesthetically pleasing, adding natural elements to urban settings that might otherwise consist of concrete and metal. Having shaded areas in cities and developed areas will encourage more outdoor activities and social interaction.
These are only a few of the reasons why Earth Day 2016 is encouraging everyone to start or support a tree-planting initiative. This blog will soon be sharing some practical tips from your fellow YALI Networkers on how you can participate.