• Martin Ford

Tree Life: It's More Than You Thought!


Red squirrel: maxpixel.net

As we continue exploring the contribution to our lives of including trees in our yards, neighbourhoods, and cities, we must recognize the synergistic benefit to birds, wildlife, and other plant life as the next instalment of our Top 20 Benefits list.


Trees are secure resting places that enable birds to be part of our experience. They provide safe and constant temperatures for nesting sites, food (in the form of fruit and insects), gathering perches for flocks to socialize, viewing platforms away from the ground and out of the reach of predators, places to vocalize during the morning and evening, and adequate height for their young as they first explore the wonders of flight. For migrating birds that seasonally crisscross our far-flung city boundaries, tree canopies provide safe cover from both the elements and from predators so that they can rest.


Climbing animals also enjoy similar benefits, but additionally, tree canopy limbs intersect to create virtual aerial highways, well above the ground, which facilitate travel out of harm’s reach. For some animals, trees provide a safe haven when danger threatens, and for others, they provide a hiding place from which to observe the landscape below.


As we look more intensely into the canopy, we realise that there are so many other plants such as mosses, ferns, and lichen that make these living branches and foliage their home. Another form of life, which we are only just beginning to understand, lives within the soil and has a symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees, and the roots of all plants. This is a network of fungi and roots called mycorrhizae which is essential to the long-term health of trees and thrives only in the cooler soils that a tree’s canopy provides.


Trees provide a living world for our gardens and neighbourhoods in which the rest of nature exists and for us to intimately experience, all within city confines. Without healthy trees and the vital life that they harbour, city living becomes sterile.

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