Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Elizabeth. Elizabeth Wonders, “Why do we need trees?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Elizabeth!

Arbor Day is an annual holiday that celebrates trees. The name, in fact, comes from the Latin word arbor, which means tree. Each Arbor Day, people are encouraged to plant and care for trees.

Arbor Day got started on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska City, Nebraska. J. Sterling Morton, a respected agriculturalist who served as President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture, came up with the idea for Arbor Day as a way to encourage individuals and civic groups to plant trees. On the very first Arbor Day in 1872, approximately one million trees were planted in Nebraska.

Although National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, many states observe Arbor Day on a different date based upon the best time to plants trees locally. When is Arbor Day in your state? Just click on your state on the map to find out when your state observes Arbor Day.

Why is it important to plant trees? They prevent erosion of the soil, as well as provide a home for a variety of animals. Of critical importance to humans, they also play a major role in producing the oxygen we breathe and cleaning carbon dioxide out of the air.

In addition to these scientific roles, trees are beautiful to look at; and many trees provide fruit, such as apples and oranges. Of course, we also get wood from trees, which is used to build homes and for many other products. Wood also serves as a primary source of fuel for many people.

In many areas of the world, the removal of trees for agricultural or urban uses — called deforestation — has resulted in a variety of damage to the environment. When sufficient reforestation — the planting of new trees — does not occur in these areas, extinction of species that formally lived in the trees can occur, as well as climatic changes due to increases in carbon dioxide levels and adverse soil erosion leading to arid, desert-like wastelands.

Fortunately, many concerned citizens and environmental groups around the world have taken up the cause of planting trees. You can help out by planting your own trees or helping others in your community understand the importance of planting trees.

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