The Many Benefits of Trees
April 06, 2016
Nick Bradford

Did You Know?

  • US forests occupy approximately one-third of the country's total land area.
  • US forests absorb and store about 16% of all carbon dioxide emissions associated with fossil fuel burning in the US each year.

Forests and trees provide many benefits and services to society, including clean water, recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat, carbon storage, watershed protection, flood control, erosion reduction, and improved human health. Community trees help to reduce air and water pollution, improve physical and mental health, strengthen social connections, alter heating and cooling costs, and are associated with reduced crime rates.

A changing climate may influence the structure and function of these services through increased risks of pest outbreaks, wildfires, extreme weather disturbances, and shifts in habitat ranges. For example, Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005 damaged a total 5,500 acres of forest. As a result, the amount of carbon released by the destroyed trees as they decayed is roughly the same as the amount of carbon absorbed by all US forests in a single year.

Learn More:

  • Explore the adult and children's health and nature fact sheets to learn more about the health benefits of the natural environment.
  • Watch the video below to learn how the US Forest Service and NASA study the importance of trees and forests in the carbon cycle.

What You Can Do

  • Save energy, water, and money at home by having a well-designed landscape that creates shade, windbreaks, and reduces water use.

Celebrate Arbor Day

Held annually on the last Friday in April, Arbor Day is a good time to recognize the value that trees provide to both our health and our environment. Aside from providing beauty to the landscape, a home for wildlife, and shade from the sun, trees also provide ecosystem services that help to protect the air and water that we all depend on. In a year, a single healthy tree:

  • has the same cooling effect as ten room-sized air conditioners running continually;
  • absorbs 750 gallons of stormwater, preventing erosion and protecting water quality;
  • and filters 60 pounds of pollutants from the air.


Get in on the Arbor Day celebrations!