June 09, 2016 2 min read

Do you have a favorite tree? You know, one that stands above all the rest? Perhaps it’s in your backyard, or maybe you see it on the way to school or work. 

Despite loving all trees, for me there is one that just seems stick out. It’s on a road that I have the fortune of traveling along every week, and last year as I went down that road, I noticed that something had changed.

Everywhere I looked, there were stumps where there used to be trees.  One tree after another—gone. One part of me feared that my special tree had disappeared like the rest, but as I approached its spot, I was relieved to see it was alive and well.

So where did the other trees go?  Unfortunately, an invasive insect infested the Ash trees, and all of them had to be cut down. 

Why did this happen? While there are many reasons why and how this could have happened, the simplest way to explain it is that the ecosystem was hit with a virus (the invasive insects), and it wasn’t strong enough to fight it off.

Our environment is a living system—just like our bodies. It takes a healthy immune system to fight off viruses and resist foreign germs that enter. And just like the human immune system requires healthy, diverse gut flora to stay strong, our natural environment also needs strong, diverse populations of flora and fauna.

This is where biodiversity comes in. You might also hear it referred to as biological diversity. It has three components:

  1. The variety within each species that exists
  2. The variety of different species that exists
  3. The variety of different ecosystems that exist.

While trees rely on biodiversity to stay healthy, they also play an important role in promoting it. Think about the amount of life that depends on trees. Right off the bat (pun intended), I can think of 5 different species: birds, squirrels, ants, spiders, and fungi.  Each of these species (with hundreds or even thousand subspecies) relies on trees to get through their daily lives.

What would happen to these creatures if the trees were not there to provide nutrients and shelter?  Would they survive?  And if the health of our environment is dependent on a diverse ecosystem, and we are dependent on a healthy environment for our own wellbeing…well, you see where this is going, right?

If I had to pick one of the six pillars that best displays interconnectedness, it would be biodiversity. One part of the ecosystem feeds another, and the world keeps spinning round. 

So how do we ensure that we maintain biodiversity?  Planting trees is a good start. However, in the name of biodiversity, let’s make sure to plant a good variety, and preferably ones that are native to the ecosystem. 

Stay tuned for the next post, where we’ll explore how trees promote good health. And in the meantime, consider planting a tree to promote biodiversity!

We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?

by Leah Feor

Founder, Simply Sustainable

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