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trees for life


TREES are an essential part of life on our world. When the most seasoned trees on the planet unexpectedly begin dying, we need to pay serious attention.

We have underrated the significance of trees. They bring us shade and we can count on trees to provide us with significant protection against the destructive assault we have imposed upon the environment.  Reforestation has become one of the most pressing global issues of our time, and in fact, is part of our struggle to reverse global warming.

We underestimate their importance and marvel at their beauty. During photosynthesis, trees turn daylight — into nourishment for insects and birds and create a beautiful shady canopy. After all, trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen.

There are other benefits of trees that are not self-evident. For example, Katsuhiko Matsunaga, a marine physicist at Hokkaido University in Japan, found that when tree leaves disintegrate, they filter acids into the sea that assist with supporting the life of tiny fish. In a mission called Forests Are Lovers of the Sea, anglers have replanted trees along coasts and waterways to bring back fish and shellfish stocks. The fish have returned to the coast.

Trees enhance our water channels, filtering out the most harmful materials, including explosives and solvents, generally through a thick local area of microorganisms around the tree’s roots that clean the water in return for supplements, a cycle known as phytoremediation.

Tree leaves filter air contamination as well. A recent report by specialists at Columbia University found that more trees in metropolitan areas correlate with a lower occurrence of asthma.

Trees are enormously underutilized as an eco-innovation. “Working trees” could assimilate a portion of the overabundance of phosphorus and nitrogen that run off ranch fields and assist with recuperating the no man’s land in the Gulf of Mexico. In Africa, a large number of sections of dried land have been recovered through essential tree growth.

Trees are the planet’s intensity safeguard. They keep urban communities and rural areas at least 10 degrees cooler and safeguard our skin from the sun’s brutal UV rays. Trees sequester carbon dioxide, an ozone harming substance that makes the planet hotter.

As the saying goes, the best time to grow a tree is 100 years ago but practically speaking, you can play an important role on this planet by planting a tree today.

Do you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about what will save humanity from itself? This is a key question that I ask myself every day.

As someone who spent most of their childhood summers in natural environments, it isn’t a surprise to me that so many people are disconnected from the natural world around us.

Contemporary gardeners are only now beginning to realize the value of planting gardens made up of native species. The ‘lawn’ culture of the 50’s is finally beginning to disappear. Hopefully, in the future, the lawn mower will be placed in museums for people to marvel at the stupidity of the past.

Long ago, I removed the ‘lawn’ in my back garden by placing a trampoline there for the kids to play on. It was used a few times by the kids and often by my napping husband. One day, we placed an add on kijiji asking anyone who wanted it to remove it from the back garden for free. Fortunately, the trampoline ended the life of the ‘lawn’ that existed before the trampoline.

Needless to say, when we purchased our house, there was a chain link fence at the back of the garden and chain link fence and a doggie run along the centre of the garden. We planted native shrubs and trees and a tree planted itself via squirrel and voila, our garden now looks like a small forest. I am so happy when people visit the back and remark that our small back garden reminds them of a visit to their cottage! We are in downtown Toronto and we have built an oasis for those who like experiencing the serenity of a natural world including the squirrels, skunks, raccoon, possums, birds and more.

I revel in the beauty of our naturalized garden. When I pass other natural native gardens, I can’t help but smile at the small but incremental progress we are making here in Toronto. Many years ago, Toronto banned all pesticides and herbicides for commercial use.

To support hope in the world, I founded

It’s a social enterprise dedicated to planting trees by our partners One Tree Planted. For every e-card purchased, (greeting card) a tree is planted. It is a simple way for anyone who cares about the planet to make a small contribution towards the greater good while giving a worth-while gift to someone they care about.

My hope is to plant a huge forest some day and to know that I have left a small but lasting legacy for humanity and for the future of our children. The next time a birthday celebration, or any other special occasion arrives, please consider planting a tree for them. They’ll love the gesture and you’ll leave a legacy for the future of the planet.

Cindy Stanleigh, Founder, CEO of

a gift to remember