June 01, 2016 3 min read

Have you ever stood under a tree while it was raining?  It’s a bit magical really.  The sound of the rain drops falling on the leaves, the convenient way you are sheltered from the storm.  Trees produce canopy cover; this is one of the many ways that they interact with water to produce a healthy ecosystem for us to live in.

In my last blog we talked about the importance of trees for air quality; the first pillar of tree planting.  This blog we will be shifting from CO2 to H2O.  While the planet is made up of two thirds water, and the human body contains about the same amount, trees hold a little less as they are made up of approximately 50% water

Close up of a bead of water on leaf

Trees are designed by nature to hold and clean water, making them a vital part of any infrastructure whether it be in an urban or rural area.  In a previous blog “How Planting Trees Can Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint”, it's explained that mature trees help reduce runoff in urban settings.  This prevents water from ending up in storm drains, and that reduces dependency on water treatment facilities.  The benefits add up over time since gallons of rainfall are diverted from treatment, saving time and energy.

Trees not only save rain water from ending up in the storm drains, trees also play a large role in our ecosystems watershed.  A watershed is an area of land that catches the water which then makes its way into streams, rivers, lakes, and ultimately to the sea.  If an area is hit with a heavy rainfall or flash flooding, having trees will help to mitigate the damage caused as they absorb a large part of the rainfall.  The tree will then release water back into the earth and atmosphere over time rather than all at once.

This unique system that allows trees to drink water through the leaves – sending it off into the air as oxygen and water vapor – also pushes the water down through its roots filtering out harmful substances as it flows into our groundwater.

Close up of rain falling on leaves of tree

Pretty impressive what a tree can do for water, right?  Although I could go on for hours about how trees and water work well together, I’m going to end with one last point about the interconnection of our ecosystem.  While the trees are absorbing the rainfall, and cleaning the water, their unique root system is holding everything together underground, preventing erosion.  

Why is erosion prevention important you ask?  Because at a time when sea levels are rising and people are living on the water’s edge, we can work together by reducing landslides and land losses that can have devastating consequences. 

Aerial view of river running through forest

Imagine that, one small act such as planting a tree can play a part in mitigating the consequences of natural disasters.  Keep in mind though; you need to do the act before the benefits appear.  So go ahead and plant a tree, or perhaps gift one to a friend. After all, it’s an investment that costs far less than an umbrella, and it will help shelter us from some of the biggest storms.

Keep posted for our next blog as we explore the third pillar of tree planting; biodiversity. In the meantime, we want to hear from you.  Comment below on what your favorite benefits of trees might be!


by Diana Chaplin

Canopy Director & Eco-Storyteller