So what is “Arbor Day” really about? We’re betting you – like many of us – aren’t quite sure. Well, your good friends at Just Energy are here to fill you in on the details surrounding your new favorite day of the year: Arbor Day!
Decades before anyone knew what it meant to “go green,”pioneers of the Nebraska Territory used the area’s newspaper to spread agricultural information to their neighbors. J. Sterling Morton, originally from Detroit, knew trees were needed as shade from the sun, for fuel and building materials and for keeping soil in place. On January 4, 1872, Morton proposed a tree-planting holiday called “Arbor Day,” where prizes would be offered to municipalities and individuals who planted the greatest number of trees. And on April 10 of that same year, the first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska. In 1885, Arbor Day was made a legal holiday and Morton’s birthday, April 22, was picked as the celebration date.
Today, Arbor Day is celebrated (usually on the final Friday in April) in all 50 states and in dozens of countries around the world. And it’s a good thing, too, as trees add endless value and benefit to our environment.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, planting trees around your house not only increases the value of your property but also helps keep your home cool during the spring and summer months and breaks cold winds to keep it warmer in the fall and winter, saving energy and lowering cooling and heating costs. Trees also provide food and shelter for local wildlife. In rural areas, trees improve crop yields on farms, preserving topsoil. Along streams and rivers, trees prevent erosion and keep waters clean and purified.
But perhaps most importantly, planting trees fights climate change, absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutants through photosynthesis and emitting clean oxygen into the atmosphere. Cutting down trees – or deforestation – only exacerbates global warming as many moist, cool areas are quickly losing their shady canopies and drying out. Deforestation also leads to a dramatic loss in habitat for millions of animal species – 70 percent of land animals live in forests and cannot survive if their tree houses are destroyed.
As climate change continues to be one of the 21st century’s greatest challenges, it has, rather unfortunately, given Arbor Day a more profound meaning. The worldwide community understands and embraces the importance of preserving our forests and planting more trees.
For more history and information on Arbor Day and other environmental movements around the world, stay connected to the Just Energy blog and make sure to like Just Energy on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!