Re-Tree the World: Clean the air, slow climate change, plus…

Trees are life enablers and life protectors. They are air cleaners and oxygen makers, making it possible for us to breathe (i.e., live). They mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide; one tree can sequester up to 50 pounds of CO2 per year, and an acre of forest can absorb twice the CO2 produced by the average car’s annual mileage. Trees also filter some pollutants out of the water and soil, and they can prevent or control flooding. They provide habitat to many species. They provide shade (natural cooling, which reduces energy use for AC cooling). Some trees provide food (fruit and nuts) for us to eat. Being near trees boosts our mental health and clarity. Their presence increases property values for homes and neighborhoods, and they contribute much-needed beauty to our world. So many benefits.

Despite all of the ways that trees contribute to (and are necessary for) our health and wellbeing, a recent study found that during the past 12,000 years of human civilization, humans have wiped out almost half of the trees on earth. Around 15 billion trees are cut down each year (to make wood products, pulp, and paper, and to clear land for cattle grazing, palm oil plantations, other agricultural uses, and development). (Click here for other Forest Facts.) We are destroying our own life support system. We are also losing millions of trees to drought in some areas, and also to the growing number of severe wildfires, which are both worsened by climate change and simultaneously contributing to climate change through additional carbon emissions, in a vicious cycle (AKA a feedback loop).23208221_10155936458843007_9218184974786625536_n

We need to prevent deforestation, and also to reforest and regreen our world. We can start with our own yards, gardens, fields, or towns. Plant a tree, or two or three!

[NOTE: If you celebrate Christmas and you traditionally mark the occasion with a cut-down (i.e., killed) xmas tree, how about starting a new tradition: you could get a living (potted and replantable) tree instead (do a web search for the words “living Christmas trees” or “live xmas trees” and your county name to see if there are places near you that offer these; or just go get a live, plantable tree from a nursery). Alternatively, you could put ornaments or lights on a tree that’s already growing in your yard. Or get creative and make a wreath or a table/mantle decoration from evergreen trimmings, and forego having an xmas tree at all (gasp!). In a climate crisis (which is what we are in now), and with millions of trees being destroyed by wildfires, drought, and deforestation every year, I think it’s entirely fair and appropriate to question some traditions (such as our Great Annual Xmas Tree Massacre) and start up some new ones. Don’t you? Regardless of what you choose to do for Christmas, you can always make a donation to a reforestation group or a local tree-planting group. You will find a partial list of organizations below.]

You can also have a tree planted in someone’s name (e.g., “adopt” or “sponsor” a tree in their honor) as a gift for Christmas or any other occasion—through groups like the Arbor Day Foundation, Cool Earth, Trees for a Change, Redwood Forest Foundation, etc.

imagesfscAnother way to reduce extreme deforestation (the clear-cutting of forests) is to look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood and paper products, as well as Rainforest Alliance-certified products (see logos to the right).

Earlier this year, 1.5 million volunteers planted a record 66 million trees in 12 hours in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. Other groups are starting to use drones to plant seeds or saplings, to reforest areas much more quickly and efficiently than can be done by hand (there have been articles on this in Fast Company and Wired magazine, among other publications). Note: Climate- and site-appropriate (native or adapted) trees should be selected when planting trees. And forests should not be planted over native, wild grasslands, which also sequester carbon.

There are many anti-deforestation efforts as well as local tree-planting and global reforestation organizations around the world, including:

Also check out these online tools:

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December 6, 2017

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Chris McLaren December 12, 2017 at 1:46 pm

There’s a free guide that shows what and where to buy FSC-certified products at https://advocate.us.fsc.org/forest-friendly-living/

… Every time consumers buy products sourced from responsibly-managed forests, they add incentive to industry to do more. Happy holidays!

_ FSC US

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