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Trees for the Planet

Trees are essential to the health of our planet and of ourselves. They fight climate change, clean the air, improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and provide habitats for animals – and for us!

Every year, National Tree Day is celebrated to highlight the importance of trees and raise awareness of the threats that we all face if trees are lost. This year, National Schools Tree Day will be held on July 31, 2020 and National Tree Day will be held on August 2, 2020.  

National Tree Day started in 1996 and has grown into Australia's largest community tree-planting and nature care event. Over 26 million trees have been planted by more than 5 million people. Get your school involved by registering here

Human relationship with trees 

 

Trees release oxygen from their leaves which is essential to life on earth. But did you know that trees clean the air we breathe by absorbing harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides, ammonia and sulfur dioxide? These pollutants can have negative impacts on the health of humans, animals and plants, so trees play a key part in keeping our earth’s living inhabitants healthy. In fact, trees can be thought of as the “earth’s lungs”.  

Trees are also a crucial part of the earth’s water cycle as they add clean water to the atmosphere through the process of transpiration. This moisture then rises up to form rain clouds, which release the water back onto the earth, which we then drink and use for washing and cooking. View the image below to understand how water travels through a plant and back into the water cycle. 

Humans are biophilic, meaning we have a need to seek special connections with nature, especially trees and plants. Because of this, being in nature reduces stress and anxiety in humans, in addition to other health benefits. How do you feel after resting under a tree on a hot summer’s day, protected in the shade of its canopy? Do you have many trees around your home and school? Perhaps you have a favourite tree that you visit sometimes.  

“Give Me a Home Among the Gum Trees” is a famous Australian song you might have heard which expresses our love of the iconic gum tree. Click on the video below to enjoy the song in Auslan. Can you remember the signs for: tree, home, kangaroo? 

                            

Tree to tree 

 

As you’ve learned, without trees, many animals would have nowhere to call home. A single tree can provide a home to many living things including mammals, reptiles, birds and smaller organisms such as insects, fungi and other plants. But did you know that some scientists think that trees “talk” to and trade nutrients with each other in their forest home? They do this underground via a series of networks with the nickname of the Wood Wide Web. This is why the loss of one tree has an effect on all other trees in the same area. Learn more about the amazing Wood Wide Web by watching the video below.  

Activities - Iconic and important

1. Discuss

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now." Use Think, Pair, Square, Share to discuss the meaning of this Chinese proverb.  

 

2. Exploring outdoors 

Learn skills in the outdoor classroom that is the Australian bush by getting yourself close to trees to receive the health benefits only nature can provide. 
Take a look at some fun activities here: Tree Climbing, Digging Sticks and Shelter Building
 

3. Act and dance

The Wood Wide Web is fascinating, isn’t it? Watch the video again, and with your class, use your body to act out or do an interpretive dance that shows the connections between trees.  


 

4. Planning and planting

The livelihood of our world and its inhabitants depends on the health of our trees. There are a number of reasons why we should plant trees. Use your learning from Activities in the previous topics to develop a plan for planting more native trees in your school and area. 
Click here to access the 'Plan for Planting' activity sheet.

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