In today’s society, the importance of trees is grossly under estimated. Not only do we often forget that they provide us with a lot of the air we breathe, structure our buildings, and provide us with every day paper and pulp products, they now have another job in this day and age. They are working to sequester (intake) the excess of carbon dioxide we are producing, and therefore are combating climate change. Trees can be very effectively used by anyone, wether it’s one in a yard or ten lining the street, every one can do their part by planting a tree and having the right knowledge behind it. Though, with all the species of trees in the world, which would be most effective in sequestering carbon in your own back yard, school, or work place?
There are many different factors that will affect the species best suited in different places, for different people to get the most out of their tree(s). The amount of carbon a tree will intake depends more on the region in which the tree can grow opposed to its species, meaning that native species are always the best to an area. They are already adapted to the climate and are most likely to provide a habitat for local wildlife.
Species that are disease and pest free will also give one the benefit of not having to use fertilizers or pesticides, which are harmful in themselves to the environment. The amount of biomass a tree has is important too; bigger is often better.
Carbon is sequestered only as long as a tree is alive, so long lived species can be more efficient. Naturally, planting conditions for said trees need to allow them to thrive and grow and reach their full potential. Make sure the area you want to plant your tree(s) has the right amount of sunlight and right type of soil before hand.
Biodiversity is one of the biggest keys to success and can’t be overlooked. A range of species, mixed in ages, will be most effective. If one species is attacked by a pest or disease, a sustainable group of trees will still grow. A mix in age is very important too because if half of the trees are older and the other are younger, naturally that will provide a longer period of time trees are planted and growing, and therefore sequestering. A tree that is young and grows quickly is preferred, though slower growing trees can store much more carbon over their longer lives. Various native species planted together, will create the ultimate carbon sucking harmony. Of course, before hand the research to see who grows best with who needs to be done.
As a general fact, conifers sequester more carbon than their deciduous friends due to the fact that they don’t lose their carbon storing leaves. But to ultimately achieve biodiversity, both types should be planted together. Too many conifers would end up in an unnatural imbalance. So to prevent that, a mix of conifers and deciduous species will work best together.
Now that the reader has some basic tree planting tips, go forth and plant! Once you have the tips, research what will meet the needs and help our mother Earth the best. Even if it is one tree. In Canada alone, if everyone planted one tree, well we’d have over 35 million new trees with a new home and job!