Different studies have demonstrated the environmental, economic, and health benefits of trees. These include studies demonstrating that trees help to reduce urban heat island effects, improve air and water quality, benefit human health, reduce stormwater volume and flooding, increase property values, reduce cooling costs, provide wildlife habitat, and mitigate the impacts of climate change. But which reasons resonate most with the community members that GHEP serves, across Prince George’s County?

Our Research and Curiosity
Here at GHEP we thoroughly enjoy working with the community, providing them with updated environmental and health information, and partnering with them to install trees for free, through our Family Tree Adoption Program. As a leading global health and research organization, we are constantly finding and absorbing new research. So recently our curiosity led us to wanting a better understanding of the communities we serve. So, we added a new, fun, and simple question to our online tree application. We asked our community members: “What’s your motivation for adopting trees?” We are excited to say that we got plenty of answers and we’re excited to share our findings with you!

Aesthetics is Leading the Way
Among the 264 community members in our community survey, the number 1 reason was related to aesthetics. 78% of participants said a reason they wanted trees was to beautify their homes, with 56% included adding beauty to their neighborhood as well. A majority of participants truly find nature beautiful, and want a piece to call their own. If you’re looking for a way to spice up the look of your home, a tree is something to consider and comes with many other benefits you’ll learn about today.

Passion to Increase Air Quality
Another popular reason for wanting trees installed is to improve the air quality, being a motivation for 72% of participants. As we all know, trees produce oxygen. As society continues to function, we produce gases that pollute the air, and are potentially harmful to us. These people worry about the respiratory health of themselves, their families, and their neighborhood. This is one of their ways of addressing this issue, and helping those who live nearby.

Vanguards of Climate Change
Similar to improving air quality, 52% want to help combat climate change. As previously stated, trees produce oxygen, and us humans produce gases through energy usage, as well as respiration (aka breathing). We produce a lot of gases and one major gas is Carbon Dioxide. While carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth, the increased concentration in the atmosphere can be dangerous for everyone. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and it helps trap heat from sunlight. As greenhouse gas levels increase, more and more heat is trapped in the Earth, causing many problems, spawning from a global rise in temperature. Problems such as: global sea level increase, droughts, heat waves, bigger wildfires, and food shortages, can all occur. Thankfully plants use atmospheric CO2 to live and create oxygen for us to breathe, helping to bring that number down.

Local Water Quality Improvement
A less obvious benefit to planting trees is improving the local water quality, as it motivated 32% of participants. Trees love water, and when it rains they absorb as much as they want. This decreases the amount of water that runs off to local waterways. But as this water travels over streets and yards, it picks up sediments, pollutants, and trash, introducing all of these into our waterways. In addition to that, reducing the amount of rainwater entering local waterways, slowing erosion of riverbanks. And on a more personal level, it decreases the chance your basement or street will flood.

How About Energy Savings?
The least common reasons are “saving on energy bills” and “other”. For those 20% interested in a more measurable benefit of trees, they can reduce your energy bills year-round. In the summer, a well placed tree(s) can provide shade for your house, reducing the temperature indoors and reducing the need to run the a/c as much. And in the winter, well placed trees or bushes can serve as a windbreak, preventing the cold wind from sucking the heat from your house. In turn, making the heating in your home more effective.

Unpacking Other Motivators
“Other” motivations pushed 17% of participants to order trees. These consisted of many reasons such as providing habitat for wildlife, enjoying food from your trees, and much more. Regardless of your reason, we appreciate every one of you who orders or plants trees. You are making a difference for everyone, so thank you. We hope you found our insights interesting and learned something while reading.

As much as we learned already, we still want to learn more! So, what pushes you to plant trees in your home or communities? Feel free to let us know.