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The benefits of trees

The desert-like terrain of the Southwest United States collection

The Morton Arboretum works toward a greener, healthier, more beautiful world by planting and protecting trees in urban areas as well as forests. The benefit trees provide is deeply ingrained in the rich history and mission of the Arboretum. One of the reasons founder Joy Morton built a home at the site of what is now the Thornhill Education Center was to help his wife, Carrie Morton, experience the healing nature of the countryside. Nearly 100 years later, the Arboretum continues to celebrate this legacy in all of its work, including maintaining healthy trees on its grounds. 

Over the past 30 years, science has demonstrated how trees in our landscapes provide many concrete benefits for people, society, and the environment. Numerous scientific studies have shown that trees promote health and well‐being by reducing air pollution, encouraging physical activity, enhancing mental health, promoting social ties, and even strengthening the economy. As the world faces growing concerns about climate change--including rising temperatures and more frequent and more extreme weather events--it’s helpful to know that trees can contribute to reducing urban temperatures and provide the necessary infrastructure to support the management of stormwater.

To provide these benefits and more, trees need care—planting, mulching, pruning, and watering. It's worth the time and money: experts have determined that every dollar invested in  tree planting and management returns up to 500%. Trees also provide an estimated $18.3 billion in annual value of air pollution removal, reduced building energy use, carbon sequestration, and avoided pollutant emissions. Allocating resources for tree planting and maintenance is more than just a fiscally sound decision; it is an investment in the very well-being of people and the planet.

Here are some of the ways trees make life better for people.