Trees are the glue that binds communities together. The trees that line our streets, parks, playgrounds, and backyards not only create a more beautiful and peaceful environment, but they vastly increase our quality of life.

Among their many benefits to our ecosystem, trees:

  • Release oxygen and capture carbon dioxide.
  • Filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.
  • Absorb and filter the sun’s radiant energy, keeping things cool in summer.
  • Reduce the heat island effect caused by pavement and commercial buildings.
  • Shield us from the downfall of rain, sleet, and hail.
  • Screen people and homes from harsh winds.
  • Prevent flooding and fight erosion with their far-reaching roots.
  • Absorb and store rainwater, which reduces runoff and sediment deposit after storms and recharges the groundwater supply.
  • Prevent the transport of chemicals into streams.
  • Make excellent compost from fallen leaves that enrich the soil.
  • Bring natural elements and wildlife habitats into urban settings.
  • Provide food for animals who eat the leaves, flowers, and fruit and disperse the seeds over great distances.
  • Create shelter for living creatures, keeping them out of the reach of predators.
  • Produce fruits, nuts, and other consumables.
  • Provide a source of cork, chemicals, and medicines.
  • Save cooling and heating costs.
  • Raise property values.
  • Make immeasurable emotional and sentimental connections.

A city without trees would be an ugly and barren place.

Arbor Day Festival

Across the country, Arbor Day celebrates the planting, upkeep, and preservation of trees. National Arbor Day is observed on the last Friday in April—April 24 in 2020. Florida Arbor Day is observed on the third Friday of January—January 17 in 2020.

This year, Jacksonville celebrated Arbor Day on March 28, but Greenscape of Jacksonville had to reschedule its annual event because of the pandemic. Greenscape is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching Jacksonville through planting, protecting, and promoting trees.

Greenscape invites the community to a tree giveaway and shred activity from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. November 14 in the parking lot of the Prime Osborn Convention Center at 1000 Water St.

The community-wide recycling collection event, a nationwide initiative by Keep America Beautiful, celebrates America Recycling Day.

The shredding drop off and the tree pickup will be staged on a drive-through course. The public must wear masks and remain in their vehicles. Masked volunteers will assist in removing paper for shredding and placing tree selections in vehicle trunks.

Greenscape will give away more than 2,000 free trees to residents on a first-come, first-served basis during the four-hour event. The tree giveaway is part of the annual Arbor Day celebration which was postponed because of COVID concerns. The three-gallon container trees being given away include the following species:

  • Natchez Crape Myrtle (White)
  • Tuscarora Crape Myrtle (Coral)
  • Southern Magnolia
  • Dahoon Holly
  • Fringetree
  • Red Maple
  • Live Oak
  • Bald Cypress
  • Redbud

Every tree counts

Each year, garden clubs count the trees they have planted. If your Garden Circle plants trees any time between February 1, 2020, and February 28, 2021, the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs wants to hear from you.

Kat Spieker, state chair for trees and reforestation, requests that each Circle complete the Tree Planting Record form from the FFGC website. The form is due March 10, 2021, so there is plenty of time to share in the count.

If your Circle has members who have helped with a church, school, or other community landscaping efforts, those count, too. The form asks for both the common name and botanical name of the tree planted.

Last year, FFGC clubs planted 188,00 trees, representing 207 species.