In previous blogs, we’ve told you about how tending to our trees, parks, and green spaces can improve our health and even our property values. But did you know that trees also act as engines of economic growth? Jobs are a critical component of any healthy community, and trees can play a critical role in creating those jobs. In other words, trees are at the root of any strong, vibrant community.

With so many people still struggling to get on their feet, the role that trees can play in supporting the creation of jobs is more important and valuable than ever. You might even say that money really does grow on trees, if we consider that green industries are responsible for two million jobs nationally—and 240,000 in California alone.

21666_10151242956594648_665126028_nThe “green industry,” or horticultural industry, includes tree-related positions of varying skill levels including arborists, nursery and sod growers, landscape architects, designers and builders, contractors and maintenance firms, retail garden centers, home centers and mass merchandisers with lawn and garden departments, and marketing intermediaries such as brokers and horticultural distribution centers (re-wholesalers). According to the Economic Impacts of the Green Industry in the United States report, this industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. It’s so robust, in fact, that it often experiences expansion even during recessionary periods.

Young adults are some of the hardest hit Americans when it comes to the recession. Trees and other greenery can provide a crucial launching pad for teens, starting them on a path to becoming productive members of our economy. For 20 years, the Urban Corps of San Diego County has done just that.

Corpsmember_group_fsThe Corps provides environmental job training and educational opportunities in the fields of conservation, including urban forestry, to young adults. Corps members go to school to earn a high school diploma one day per week and work in the community on environmental projects, such as planting free trees, four days per week. In its two decades, Urban Corps has helped more than 6,500 young adults.

Trees are also indirectly responsible for the thousands of other jobs required to make the many products that come in some way from trees. Did you ever wonder who makes your pencils or chewing gum? Trees help keep them working. And don’t forget about the fruit and nuts industry—from apples and pears to almonds and hazelnuts, it creates $18 billion in business.

In total, according to 2004 data, sales from green industries amounted to $147 billion—$28 billion of which was contributed by our western region of the United States. Between the thousands of jobs and billions of sales that trees help create, there’s no denying that trees are a valuable investment. The bottom line: as the trees grow, so grows our economy!

Did this post leave you wanting to work in the green industry yourself? Check out this list of 50 tree-related careers.