Increasing amounts of carbon are building up in the atmosphere creating an insulating cloud that does not allow heat to leave the planet’s surface. The effect of the carbon build up is an average warmer temperature. The higher indicators of climate change we are seeing like sea level rise and greater occurrences of natural disasters call for immediate action. Planting trees is a simple way to sequester carbon.
Let Trees Do the Work
We can look to trees to help sequester carbon. Planting trees is easy and fun and provides so many benefits. What trees are best to plant? There are some general guidelines to keep in mind to help you select trees that “sequester carbon efficiently.” These trees at maturity should be:
- Large-size tree, 25+ feet
- Long-lived trees, 50+ years
- Disease Resistant
- Non-invasive statusi
iRichard Smardon and Andrew P. Drew, of the State University of NY at Syracuse College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Deciding What Tree to Plant
The species of trees with these criteria will vary for different environmental climates. Most hardwoods (e.g., oaks) and conifers (e.g., pine) fit the first two criteria. Tree planters need to research what trees fit the last three criteria for her/his region's climate. Your local cooperative extension office (http://www.extension.org), US forestry office (http://www.fs.fed.us/contactus/regions.shtml), or local parks department can give you guidance on what trees are native, disease resistant and non-invasive. Ask to speak to a forester or someone who can tell you what trees in your area fit the above criteria.
Calculate How Many Trees to Plant to Offset One's Carbon Footprint
To estimate the number of trees you need to plant you need to know how much carbon you generate, also called your “carbon footprint”. Most Americans generate between 16-20 tons of carbon annually. If you would like to determine your personal carbon footprint, you can visit one of several websites with carbon calculators. Here are a few for you to consider:
Once you have established your carbon footprint, you can determine the number of trees you need to plant. If your annual carbon footprint is 17 tons per year then you need to plant about 708 trees annually.
The Formula - You can use this formula to calculate the number of trees you need to plant to offset your carbon footprint. Just substitute your carbon footprint (carbon measured in tons) in the formula below.
GETTING HELP TO PLANT ALL THOSE TREES!
To plant these trees myself I would need to plant almost two trees a day. While the Agni Institute highly recommends planting trees yourself, many of us would have trouble planting the hundreds required to offset such a large carbon footprint. This number may be overwhelming, but it is not insurmountable. There are many reputable organizations and tree planting projects around the globe to which you could contribute financially to help you meet your goal. Here are several to consider...
We Plant It Forward a program of the Environmental Restoration and Preservation Trust, Contact Us make new form
American Forests Global ReLeaf, www.americanforests.org
Nature Conservancy, Plant a Billion trees, www.plantabillion.org
Neighborwoods, program of the Alliance for Community Trees, www.neighborwoodsmonth.org
Your Local government parks and recreation or public works department.