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How trees prevent climate change

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How Planting Trees can Help Fight Climate Change

The global climate emergency we are experiencing is seriously threatening our planet. Experts say that average temperatures will rise around 3 to 4 degrees by 2100 on average, with starker increases at the poles and over land. If we get to a tipping point, it will be too late to make any difference, as the shift will be irreversible. This is precisely why we all need to do whatever we can to help. Even simple things, like planting trees, can contribute to positive change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a warning that global temperatures must not rise by over 1.5°C. The worrying thing is, we’ve already passed 1°C. Something needs to happen now. Emissions must be reduced and technology is being developed to help, although it’s a way off and proving costly.

There is, thankfully, a far more straightforward solution. A natural way to fight climate change. And that is trees.

How do trees help fight climate change?

Trees are a natural carbon capturing and storage tool. They absorb atmospheric carbon and lock it away for hundreds of years courtesy of photosynthesis.

Every part of a wood ecosystem plays a fundamental role in locking away carbon, including living and deadwood, leaves, roots, and surrounding soil and vegetation. Even just a young wood with a mixture of native tree species has the ability to lock up a massive 400 plus tonne of carbon per hectare.

And trees do even more great things than just lock away carbon. They also prevent flooding, reduce urban temperatures, cut pollution and enrich soil.

In the UK, the value of trees for flood protection is reckoned to be in the region of £6.5 billion, and for urban cooling, £6.1 billion.

The wonderful thing about woodland is that it continues to do its fantastic work even when it’s hundreds of years old. Old-growth forests are ‘carbon sinks’, which means they absorb more carbon than they release into the atmosphere. This is precisely why trees are our powerful partner when it comes to fighting climate change. Yet only 13 per cent of the land area of the UK is covered by trees, compared to the EU average of 37 per cent. This is why we need to plant more trees, and protect the ones we already have.

Planting trees is the way forward to carbon net zero

Whilst other changes need to be made to reduce carbon emissions, planting trees is a definite way forward. But it’s quite a project. To help reach the UK government’s 2050 target to become carbon net zero, the UK’s woodland cover would have to increase to at least 19 per cent, which is the equivalent of planning 1.5 million hectares of additional woodland.

The good news is that there is plenty of space for trees. Scientists have already mapped zones across Europe that could potentially be planted, all of which would not impact agriculture or urban areas. But planting the right tree in the right place is essential. Native trees need to be planted where they will naturally thrive, making woodlands more genetically diverse and therefore more resilient against diseases, pests and climate change.

Climate change is not the only issue we are facing. Biodiversity is also suffering, and the UK is already damaged in an ecological sense, with 13 per cent of our native species having been lost since 1970. But by restoring precious habitats and planting new native woodland with UK-grown trees, wildlife havens can be created and extended, which will boost biodiversity.

Planting trees for climate change

How we can all help to protect and plant trees

Woods and trees need planting and protecting, and there are plenty of ways everyone can help.

The Woodland Trust campaigns tirelessly to safeguard the UK’s woodland heritage. Whether you become a member, join in with the campaigns, support the Woodland Trust shop or do your bit by planting a tree in your garden, you could be helping to make a significant difference. There are also grants and funding schemes available to help those who are able to get involved with large scale tree planting, as well as free trees for schools and communities.

You can purchase native trees from the Woodland Trust tree shop.

Caring for trees

If you decide to join the fight against climate change and plant a tree, do remember that the importance of professionally caring for your trees cannot be over-emphasised. Regular pruning, checking for disease and pest infestation and dead wooding are all essential if your tree is going to enjoy the best of health, and do a great job of absorbing carbon.

Need professional assistance in caring for your trees? Whether you’ve recently planted a tree, or you have a mature specimen in your garden that could do with some care and attention, our helpful experts here at TH Trees Ltd are ready to help. For personalised assistance, you are welcome to get in touch.

Related guides

How to care for newly planted trees

Choosing the best trees for your needs

The best trees for small gardens

A guide to fast growing trees

The best trees to attract birds

The best trees to attract pollinators

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