Another year has flown past us and our trees have been very busy providing us with all sorts of gifts. We love Santa, but with trees we don’t even have to make a list or wait for Christmas for our gifts. As long as we are nice (and not naughty) to them, they provide us with amazing benefits–and all year long!

During the holiday season, we wanted take this opportunity to create a different sort of Christmas list: Five reasons we are thankful for trees!

1)  Trees clean our air. Everyone knows this, but it’s worth repeating. Trees clean our air! And what could be more important than being able to breathe? As humans, breathable air is our most vital requirement. Trees not only produce oxygen, but they play a critical component in cleaning the air by acting like giant filters, removing pollutants and harmful emissions. One way they do this is by absorbing air pollutants, including ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and other greenhouse gases. The results are amazing: One large tree can absorb more that 5 pounds of smog-causing pollutants each year and intercept 3 pounds of small particulate matter!

2)  Trees keep us healthy. In addition to providing us with clean air, trees are also positive for our health in a number of other ways. Studies have shown that trees help reduce stress and thus can help with emotional issues, such as depression and anxiety, and physical conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, asthma, and ADHD. Another study found that patients with a view of trees may have decreased recovery times and fewer complications after surgery.

3)  Trees provide us shade. Although it’s hard to remember in December as we face winter rain and wind, if we think back a few months to the squelching summer days (which are becoming more frequent and intense with climate change), the cooling benefit provided by trees’ shade is much appreciated and can literally be a life saver, as heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. As Woody Allen once said, “Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing ‘Embraceable You’ in spats.”

4)  Trees reduce energy costs. Related to the physical cooling benefits of trees is the benefit that the shade from trees also saves us money in energy costs. Did you know that landscaping including trees can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50%? And in the winter, strategically planted trees can act as windbreaks, reducing winter heating costs as well. That’s money we’d be happy to have right about now to use for holiday gifts.

5)  Arboristresized Trees are good for our economy. Trees are not only beautiful and make us feel good, but they offer many tangible economic benefits: They increase property values for homeowners and sales for businesses, and provide jobs for nearly 60,000 people in California. In addition, the activities from tree-related businesses help keep California’s economy running: In 2009, urban forestry (from manufacturing to the goods sold in nurseries to workers’ salaries) added nearly $4 billion to our GDP.

Trees provide SO many benefits that we admit that selecting just five was a challenge. In fact…we forgot to mention we love Christmas trees because they provide a place for Santa to leave his presents.

You can show your appreciation for trees—and help our campaign—by making a tax-deductible donation to the “Invest From the Ground Up” campaign today. Your support will help us to show more Californians why they should be nice to their trees!

We told you why we love trees—now it’s your turn! What is your favorite reason to be thankful for trees?