First launched in 1996 by Planet Ark, National Tree Day (held on the first Sunday each August) has become Australia’s largest tree-planting and nature care event. It’s a day that inspires us to connect with our beautiful native flora and reflect on the important role trees and plants play in our lives, and what we can do to protect them.
The importance of trees
From the sunny Golden Wattle to the vivid red blooms of the Australian Bottlebrush, trees not only inspire us with their beauty, they play a critical role on our planet.
They clean the air and produce oxygen
Through the process of photosynthesis, trees (and indeed all plants) absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and convert it into carbohydrates which they use to grow. Then, they release oxygen for us to breathe. They’re our life source, and without them, we can’t survive.
They provide shelter for wildlife
Take the iconic Australian eucalypts. There are almost 900 different species of the fragrant gum, and they provide home not just to the merry kookaburra (you know the song!) but to parrots, possums and koalas too. In fact, a koala will spend its entire life scaling, sleeping and eating in our nation’s tall eucalypt forests.
They provide shade and keep us cool
We all know the drill – if it’s hot, set up shop under a nice shady tree to keep the sun off your shoulders and the heat at bay – and it’s no fallacy! Through a process called evapotranspiration, a tree’s leaves can cool the air by releasing water into the atmosphere. It’s been found that the temperature under tree canopies can be between 10-25°C lower!
They’re a food source
We don’t think about it as much as we should, but trees are an important source of food not just for wildlife, but for humans too. Fruits, nuts, oils, spices and olives, not to mention nectar for foraging bees to pollinate.
So what can we do to help preserve trees?
There’s a lot we can do to help keep these incredible natural wonders safe, and get more of them growing.
Switch to renewable energy
At some point plants will get their fill of carbon, and their ability to clean the air will lessen. That’s where we need to help out. Globally, we must rely less on fossil fuels and more on sustainable energy sources to power our lives. This means placing more emphasis on solar, wind power and hydropower, increasing adoption of smart technology to manage distribution, and using grid-strengthening technologies like battery storage systems to ensure excess energy created by solar isn’t wasted.
Here at Origin, we’re committed to a more sustainable future. Not only have we been installing solar and been a leading provider of green energy for more than a decade, we also have a new virtual power plant that works to accelerate the role of renewables in our lives.
Change the way we use energy
By being more mindful about how and when we use energy, we can make a big difference to the carbon footprint we leave behind. One way to get into good energy-saving habits is by participating in our Spike program.
Spike is all about shifting energy use to times when solar generation is at its greatest, so we can make the most of renewable power sources. For example, doing your load of washing in the middle of the day, rather than in the evening when demand on the grid is high. Once a week for around an hour, Spike members will turn off appliances or postpone heavy energy use during peak demand to help make this possible.
We send out tips and energy saving tricks in our monthly newsletter to help you make the most of your energy-saving hour, but doing small things every day – like turning your heater down a couple of degrees, switching off power from the wall or letting freshly washed clothes air-dry instead of using a dryer – can add up to make a real impact.
Put more trees in the ground
Deforestation has devastating effects on natural ecosystems, biodiversity and the climate. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, about 7.3 million hectares (18 million acres) of forest are lost every year.
We recognise that this is a pattern that needs to change, and that the only way we can get better is by planting more trees. Over the years, we’ve worked hard at contributing to a better future by participating in tree planting and seed collection activities, including last June’s World Environment Day Planting Challenge. For this Sunday’s National Tree Day, the Origin Spike team will be making a donation to the National Tree Day Seedling Bank.