Could the Solution to Climate Angst be as Close as the Roots of a Tree?

The best way to offset environmental angst or depression, is to plant a tree. It will make you feel better and have a meaningful impact on the environment. Planting a tree in healthy soil does more than just lift our spirits, it changes us and changes the environment for the better. A Kaiser Permanente study, done in 2016, found that for every $1.00 invested in tree planting and maintenance, resulted in a $5.82 in benefit to the community over five years. Longer time periods showed even larger impacts on public health.

The key to the survival of the tree is healthy soil, with a full range of soil microbial life. In a forest, trees farm the soil microbiology that they need, with fungi as the single most important type. Yes — mushrooms, but also yeasts, molds and a group of fungi that live, symbiotically, on the roots, known as mycorrhizal fungi. All trees, even fruit trees, send half their sugars to their soil-based partners, who in turn provide the key nutrients the trees need to live.

For humans, the act of planting a tree is both physical and emotional. There are soil bacteria which positively impact our gut health and influence neurotransmitters to reduce depression. But even without touching the ground, there is a mental benefit. Seeing a tree has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Click here to learn more about the soil microbiome.

While we benefit from oxygen , cleaner air and enjoy the shade and greenery, most of us never consider the key role healthy soil plays in mitigating climate change. We are benefiting, indirectly, from the fungi extending their network of mycelium. Plants feed the whole ecosystem, but trees depend, more than grasses or shrubs, on fungi. Growth of fungal networks is the part of the complex soil microbiome which permanently stores carbon in the ground.

(As I set the tags for this story, I wonder, how can there only be 129 stories in Medium tagged with the most effective way to remove CO2 from the air? Why aren’t we all talking about soil based carbon sequestration?)

It is the fungal networks which pulls water into the root system of the trees. Trees, in turn, through respiration, adds humidity to the air. Trees and fungi are major contributors to the small water cycle, which accounts for 60% of all rainfall. And they are the first filters for two-thirds of all urban drinking water.

Microbial life has often been used to frighten consumers. Soaps and cleaners to sanitize have their place, but we need to balance fear of the unseen with the benefits that accrue from healthy soil, living plants and the “wildness” of biodiversity. Fungi have been shown to break down many types of soil pollutants. Additionally, many of us owe our lives to modern antibiotics — another benefit of fungi.

It is Friday, and I’m going out to plant a tree. Please share A Different Friday For the Future — and join me planting or protecting a tree every Friday. Follow me here and clap for this story, as well as Yes, Trees are a Global Warming Solution for 3 Reasons and Trees Provide 25 Eco-Services.

Why does SymSoil care? We focus on solutions to environmental issues, with a focus on soil biology. Trees and plants feed, and are fed by, the soil microbiome. Healthy soil influences water, carbon sequestration and human health. SymSoil holds a patent on the first scalable approach to manufacturing Soil Food Web products as an alternative to agrochemicals.



We recreate the complete soil microbe biome to improve farmer profits. #RegenAg #ClimateAction #100KTrees

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Elizabeth Pearce @ SymSoil

We recreate the complete soil microbe biome to improve farmer profits. #RegenAg #ClimateAction #100KTrees