Trees are the Lungs of the Earth

Do you love trees? I sure do. What’s a forest without them? Shrubs and some grass.

Stihl’s annual Tour des Trees, a 500-mile cycling tour to benefit the Tree Fund, is coming up this August 5-11, 2012. The best thing about it? Everyone goes at their own pace – a true power of slow event!

This year the tour is all throughout the State of Oregon. What would Oregon be without trees? It’s the timber capital of the world. Or at least of the West Coast.

Photo Courtesy of Helen Steussy

I had a chat with one of the cyclists, Doreen Crenshaw, an accountant for a  commercial real estate company and avid tree lover, who generously shared her insights about the race with me.

Power of Slow: What do you hope to accomplish by your participation in this race?

Doreen: This is not actually a race.  It is a group of bike and tree enthusiasts embarking on a bicycle tour to share our love of trees and help further the cause of research and education in tree care.  There are certainly personal fitness goals to achieve but the bigger purpose is fostering an appreciation of what trees provide us all.

POS: Would you encourage people to ride their bikes more often? What affect would that have on the environment?

D: I already do.  I am on the wellness committee where I work and organize a Bike to Work Day which has led to another regular commuter besides myself and another who now bikes regularly with his family.  While motorists often are aggravated by cyclists, they should remember that a bicycle on the road is likely one less car on the road.  Surely more bikes is better than more cars!  More bikes means better health, less road maintenance, less reliance on fossil fuels, and so much more.

POS: In what ways do trees help the environment? Why is it important to plant them?

D: Trees help the environment in countless ways.  Trees really are the lungs of

Photo Courtesy of Helen Steussy

the earth.  As a fundraiser, I am often confronted by people who will tell me they would be happy to support a cure for cancer but just can’t see giving for “a tree.”   When you can’t see the forest for the trees, you don’t realize the health benefits trees provide.  Trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen.  A mature tree can absorb roughly 48 pounds of CO2 a year, in turn releases enough oxygen to sustain two human beings.  Trees provide so much but the simplest is just enjoying its shade on a hot summer day.

POS:  Besides planting trees, in what simple ways can people live ‘greener’?

D: Ride your bike to work. It’s probably easier than you think and you’ll feel great!  Get in the habit of riding your bike for any trip less than five miles.  Turn off the water while you brush your teeth.  Hang your clothes outside to dry.

POS: Do I have to be a tree specialist to participate in the ride itself?

D: Absolutely not.  I am an accountant for a commercial real estate company.  I have always loved trees though.  I remember loving the yellow poplar (tulip) and catalpa trees in my backyard growing up.  The big oak tree in my neighbor’s yard had a swing attached to it and we would climb up the fence, get on the giant tractor tire and mount the swing and spend countless summer hours there, staring up at the big limbs above as we’d glide through the air and back to the tire.  During and just after my college years, I worked at Sequoia National Park, in the “Big Trees.”  There’s always been a special love for trees.


If you can’t participate in the tour itself, do your part and plant a tree this year. Visit this site for tree planting tips.

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