|See the list of Ohio's Champion Trees
(National champion shingle oak above and Ohio champion cottonwood below.)
This time of year, you don’t have to look very far to find an organization or community planting a tree in celebration of Earth Day or Arbor Day, or as a living memorial for a specific cause. I recently attended a tree planting ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse, which got me to thinking about what an important role trees play in our everyday lives.
Trees are the oldest and largest-living things on earth, and there is no question that they make our lives more comfortable, convenient and beautiful. You could say they are our partners in life. Just thinking of our world without trees might take your breath away literally and with good reason. Trees create oxygen so we can breathe and provide shade to keep us cool. And every spring and autumn they brighten our lives with color.
From the newspaper we read each morning or the desk we use at work, we also are surrounded by forest products. Some of these products are more obvious than others, such as bookcases, bed frames, chairs and cabinets. Others are less conspicuous because they come from wood byproducts, including shatter-proof glass, cosmetics and even medicines.
We use dozens of products that come from trees, and we may not even realize it because some items are so sophisticated. For example, cellulose a major component of cell walls in trees turns up in products such as paper, insulation, carpeting, clothing and tires. And chewing gum comes from the latex liquid of sapodilla trees, while pencil erasers are from the latex of rubber trees.
Here in Ohio, our forests produce some of the world’s finest hardwoods, such as oak, walnut, maple and cherry, which are used in everything from music boxes to porch swings. A Muskingum County company uses the wood from white oak trees to build barrels that are shipped to Kentucky, Europe and elsewhere. The state’s Amish community well-known for its carpentry expertise also takes advantage of these fine hardwoods in the crafting of high-quality furniture.
Making the wonder of wood that much more wonderful is the fact that trees are a 100 percent renewable natural resource sustained through wise forest management.
Did you know, Ohio has more than 8,000,000 forested-acres (most in private ownership) making up nearly one-third of the state's land base? Within those acres, we have 20 state forests, covering more than 185,000 acres in 21 counties. Those lands are managed by state foresters who are committed to improving the health of our forests while understanding the vital role trees play in our daily lives.
Wood lends texture and warmth to its products. Imagine how different the world of music would sound without the rich tones produced by wooden instruments, such as violins. And a certain luster likely would be lost if famous paintings, such as those by western artist Frederic Remington, were framed in anything but wood.
Of course, we also enjoy many edible goods from the woods, such as nuts, fruit and maple syrup. Did you know that nationally, Ohio ranks fourth in the production of maple syrup, bottling more than 100,000 gallons of the naturally sweet goodness?!
By using products made from trees, we support a renewable resource one that can be managed to meet our needs today and those of the many generations of Ohioans to follow.
This month, as you enjoy Ohio’s beautiful blooming trees or reflect upon our environment during Earth Day (April 22) or Arbor Day (April 29) take a moment to consider the many ways in which trees improve our quality of life.