United Kingdom, Lake District, lone tree in the countryside


United Kingdom, Lake District, lone tree in the countryside

Photo by: Westend61


Forest Projects Will Help Rebalance Earth’s Climate

By: Robin Fearon

Forests might be the best tool humanity has to tackle climate change. Trees give cooling shade, absorb and store carbon dioxide (CO2), recycle water, and provide habitat for other plants and animals. Huge international projects like the Trillion Trees initiative believe planting forests will ultimately help to rebalance Earth’s climate.

April 29, 2022

Plants naturally absorb CO2 and emit oxygen as part of photosynthesis, but trees can process a lot more because of the size of their trunks, green leafy canopy, and root structures. This filtering and storage capacity is part of the United Nations ‘Great Green Wall’ initiative to plant an 8,000 km (5,000 mile) long tree belt across the African continent.

More recent projects like Trillion Trees, the World Economic Forum’s ‘1T’, and the UN’s follow-up ‘Great Green Wall for Cities’ highlight tree planting and forest regeneration as the most effective nature-based solution for runaway CO2 emissions.

Perthshire, Scotland


Perthshire, Scotland

Photo by: Travelpix Ltd

Travelpix Ltd

1T uses research data showing that planting nearly one billion hectares (2.2 billion acres) of trees in the right places could remove 25 percent of the CO2 from Earth’s atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the Great Green Wall for Cities project would create urban green areas linked to wider forest restoration across both Africa and Asia. Once complete the wall will capture an estimated 0.5-5 billion metric tons of CO2 every year. And, if well managed, its urban forests could also reduce air temperature, lower flood risk, and improve air quality by filtering out pollutants.

City trees are actually sucking more CO2 out of the atmosphere than was thought. Climate scientists know that forests soak up more than they release – absorbing 30 percent of carbon emissions from fossil fuels. Now Boston University studies show that outlying forest edges and urban trees grow almost twice as quickly, and store carbon faster, than trees deep inside the forest.

Projects influenced by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki are now creating tiny community forests across the planet, using native trees to provide shade, support plants, and animals, and store carbon in city centers. Miyawaki’s micro-forests are much denser than conventional plantations. They store 30 times more CO2 than monoculture (single species) forests and offer 30 times better noise and dust reduction, say his followers.

Carpet of Bluebells in early morning light


Carpet of Bluebells in early morning light

Photo by: Jake Stephen

Jake Stephen

Dave Nowak is a researcher at the US Forest Service who has studied using trees in urban settings to sequester carbon for more than 30 years. Trees not only cool their surroundings and filter out CO2, they also recycle tiny particulate matter (PM) pollutants. Conifer trees, such as yew, pine, or cypress trees reduce PM best because they are evergreen, says Nowak.

But beyond trees that grow quickly, figuring out which exact species work best to improve air quality depends on many factors including soil, local climate, and site conditions. Generally, tree species that live long and require little maintenance are top of the list, says Nowak.

Still, identifying the right species to plant requires local expertise, says Nowak. Urban planners can start by using the US Forest Service ‘iTree Tools’ to choose the best trees for each locality. Another tool, American Forests’ ‘Tree Equity Score Analyzer’, helps planners to target urban forests in disadvantaged areas.

Next Up

Supertrees That Suck Up More Carbon Could Be Forest Climate Fix

Forestation and tree growth are perhaps the most powerful tool for reducing levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere and tackling climate change. Now genetically modified (GM) ‘supertrees’ that grow faster and rapidly take up CO2 could be used to address the climate crisis.

How Frogs Boost Their Sex Appeal

Male frogs form ‘boy bands’ to serenade females and woo them into their mating pool.

If A Bat Were To Bite You In Your Sleep, You'd Probably Never Know

Rabies is rare, but most cases are associated with bats.

World Oceans Week is Making a Big Splash

Dive into World Oceans Week with the Explorers Club as they celebrate the wonders of the earth's oceans and share cutting-edge research in marine technology, conservation, and beautiful underwater photography.Learn more about all the events happening this week from June 5-June 11 at www.explorers.org.

Channel Islands: A Tale of Two Worlds

Channel Islands National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the United States, yet it is only about 20 miles from the coast of Los Angeles and the bustling surf and sand lifestyle of Southern California.

Manatee’s Cousins Have Vanished from the Ocean

Dugongs, the peaceful ‘sea cows’ of the ocean have been declared functionally extinct in China. The vegetarian mammal has vanished from the coastlines of Asia and Africa.

Caring for Endangered Species at Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium is proud to care for over ten different endangered species, from small poison dart frogs to the largest fish in the sea, whale sharks. Every day, these animals face natural threats as well as human impacts, and as their numbers decrease it affects our planet’s ecosystems.

The Highest Animal on the Food Chain: Megalodon Sharks

The now-extinct megalodon and its ancestors may have been "hyper apex predators," higher up on the food chain than any ocean animal ever known.

Saving Hawaii’s Native Species

Not so very long ago, Hawaii was a remote island, populated solely by endemic flora and fauna–and its native inhabitants. Now, however, it is known throughout the world as a must-visit tourist destination, while Americans have moved to the islands in their masses, buying up beachfront properties.

99% of Sea Turtles are Now Born Female. Here's Why.

Global warming is creating a crisis in sea turtles' gender ratios, where 99% of them are being born female. Sea turtle populations have been facing a significant population decline further exasperated by climate change.