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How trees improve soil quality

by Gabrielle Clawson August 17, 2023 2 min read

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The Critical Role Trees Play in Improving Soil Quality

Trees are silent heroes that provide and facilitate the ecosystem services, such as clean air and clean water, that provide the conditions for life on earth. Similarly, when we think about trees, we don't typically think about the soil that they grow and extend they roots into. And while there are trees with some pretty incredible adaptations out there, most trees cannot grow well without quality soil.

The relationship between trees and soil is mutually beneficial, too. From reducing soil erosion to increasing soil fertility, trees naturally improve soil quality and reduce the risk of landslides and other soil-related natural disasters. Learn more about the role that trees play in improving soil quality. 

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How trees help soil creation

According to the UN, about 95 percent of the food we eat relies on healthy soils. Not only does it infuse our food with important minerals nutrients, it also provides us with almost all the ecosystem functions that sustain life on Earth. This means soil is an incredibly important aspect of our ecosystems, so creating soil is just as important.

Forests play a critical role in creating new soil by weathering parent rock materials and decomposing organic matter. Trees help break up rock material by laying down their roots while adding foliage and keeping the newly formed soil in place. Tree roots also act as an underground water channel, improving soil structure by leaving room for aeration and drainage. 

planting a tree

How trees prevent soil erosion

Typically, soil erosion is a slow, natural process. However, the rate at which it happens can be directly correlated the amount of trees and forest cover in an area. More trees and vegetation on the ground defend against wind and rain. Trees can even intercept rain, which prevents a phenomenon known as “splash erosion.”

Tree roots also help to prevent soil erosion and protect topsoil. The roots can bind soil to sloping ground to keep it in its place. With fewer trees and forest cover, we often see an acceleration in erosion and topsoil disruption.

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How trees increase soil fertility 

Soil fertility is vital for sustaining ecosystem functions and living organisms. Without soil fertility, 95 percent of our food would not be able to exist, so preserving and increasing soil fertility is critical.

Trees attract large populations of microorganisms that find homes in the soil. These microorganisms supply additional organic matter, increasing soil biodiversity and supplying the tree and soil with more nutrients. Tree roots also play an important role in helping the soil absorb water, which reduces the risk of wind erosion, improving the soil’s overall health. 

By planting trees, you are helping create soil, prevent erosion, increase soil fertility, sustain life, and more. Plant trees today!

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Gabrielle Clawson
Gabrielle Clawson

Gabrielle helps with fundraising and marketing, working with peer-to-peer fundraising as well as business fundraising. With experience in both women's rights and climate change organizations, she has a strong passion for non-profits and is excited to make an impact in the world through environmental change!