Written by 17:05 Outdoor plants

Why are plants essential for the environment?

Green plants are the basis for a healthy environment. They can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and create oxygen, which is necessary for life on earth. For many animals and food, green plants are also a great source.

1. Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is the process by which a plant makes food and oxygen. The stomata of the plant converts CO2 into oxygen.

A plant is also the only living organism that can make its own food. Plants are therefore at the bottom of the food chain.

They mainly produce oxygen and food for humans and animals. A plant is actually a small green factory!

Oxygen

An essential by-product of photosynthesis is oxygen. According to a study by the North Carolina State University, a large tree can produce enough oxygen for four people in one day.

Carbon dioxide

Plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, thus removing the substance from the atmosphere. The World Bank estimates that 20% of the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is caused by deforestation. They estimate that as much as 50% of global warming is due to the past 50 years. This is due to over-intensive agriculture and deforestation of the modern time.

2. Natural cooling and soil stabilisation

Green plants provide natural cooling on earth. The leaves block the heating effect of the sun. These green plants can also cool by perspiration. However, without large numbers of trees and other plants, this effect is minimal.

Perspiration is the process by which water evaporates from the pores of plants and cools the environment by evaporation cooling. Evaporation consumes heat and is most effective at low humidity.

Plants also stabilize the soil by their roots, which bind the soil, and by their leaves, which keep raindrops from erosion of the soil.

Areas without sufficient vegetable cover often suffer from large amounts of sediment. This is reflected in brooks and lakes, causing the quality of the water to deteriorate.

Sediment is material transported by wind, water and/or ice. Examples of sediments are gravel, clay and sand.

3. Food

Green plants form the basis of the food chain. Animals, birds, insects and micro-organisms feed on green plants.

These organisms are then eaten by larger animals, which themselves are eaten by even larger animals.

For example, a rabbit eats the hay. The rabbit is then eaten by a fox, which is then eaten by a puma.

4. Protection

Green plants, trees and shrubs, provide cover and shelter for many animals and plants. A tree provides shade for smaller plants. The same tree can also be an ideal place for a bird’s nest.

In the 1930s, the Dust Bowl took place in Canada and the United States. This was a period of drought and dust storms, hence the Dust Bowl.

The phenomenon was caused by extreme drought and decades of intensive agriculture, without crop rotation or other techniques to combat wind erosion.

By ploughing too deeply, the natural grass vegetation, which normally holds the soil together and retains moisture, is released. This causes the upper layer of the soil to dry out. The top layer was blown away during these storms. In some cases, the dust even reached cities such as Chicago, New York and Boston.

The Dust Bowl caused enormous damage to both agriculture and the environment.

The solution? Planting enough trees around farmland. This will stop most of the wind.

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