Let's talk about Trees
In recent decades, forest use has been widely studied for its climate impacts. Forest loss accounts for 8 to 10% of carbon emissions globally; tropical rainforests like the Amazon have become almost synonymous with land conservation, largely because they work as massive carbon sinks and are home to many of the world’s indigenous peoples and endangered species. If natural climate solutions are mobilized over the next 10 years, they could provide 37 percent of the needed carbon mitigation for global climate targets.
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Let’s talk about trees
Emerging tech x Trees
Let's talk about trees
An average American citizen emits around 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide in a year, which is equal to carbon sequestered by 331 tree seedlings grown for 10 years or 23.7 acres of U.S. forests in one year. For reference, India's per capita emissions are about 2.47 metric tons of carbon dioxide in a year.
How do trees benefit us?
While trees are silent and stationary, trees hold tremendous powers, including the power to make all our lives better and healthier. Some of these powers are:
consume greenhouse gasses: consume greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide that cause climate change
clean the air: they remove the kind of air pollution that is most dangerous to our lungs: particulate matter, that arises from the burning of fossil fuels
provide a home to the wildlife: even a single tree can provide vital habitat for countless species
cool down the temperature: they give us all shade and that helps us because temperatures are rising and heatwaves are getting longer due to climate change
filter water: they do this by removing pollutants and sediments from rainfall and then slowly releasing the water back into waterways and underground aquifers
Let’s Plant A Billion Trees
The Nature Conservancy's Plant a Billion Trees campaign is a major forest restoration program. Their goal is to plant a billion trees across the planet to slow the connected crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. With nearly six decades of experience, the organization has protected more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 river miles—and they operate more than 100 marine conservation projects globally.
Source: The Nature Conservancy, EPA
Emerging tech x Trees
Flash Forest is a Canadian reforestation company that uses UAV technology, automation and ecological science to regenerate ecosystems on a global scale. It is using drones over fields to fire seed pods into the ground, planting native pine and spruce trees to help restore habitat for birds. By 2028, the startup aims to have planted 1 billion trees. Check out more about this startup here.
Artificial Intelligence - Tree canopy lab
With the Tree Canopy Lab, the makers are combining AI and aerial imagery to help cities see their current tree canopy coverage and plan future tree planting projects, starting with the City of Los Angeles. Tree Canopy lab is in the Environmental Insights Explorer platform, a tool that makes it easier for cities to measure, plan and reduce carbon emissions and pollution. It’s also one step forward to the commitment to help hundreds of local governments fight climate change. Check out more about this startup here.
Gene editing - making trees more resilient
Séguin, a research scientist in forest genomics with the Canadian Forest Service, inserted bacterial DNA into spruces that effectively made them immune to spruce budworm, a pest that can chew needles off tens of millions of hectares of trees in a single outbreak. While there is controversy over genetic engineering, some scientists say it could also help fight climate change by creating trees that grow bigger, faster, resist disease and can even turn carbon into a stable white powder that falls to the ground — in other words, trees that would be better at pulling carbon from the atmosphere.
Using trees to fight climate change is based on the idea that planting more trees increases photosynthesis, the mechanism by which plants turn carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen. Carbon is converted into biomass — leaves or needles, trunks and roots — or stored in the soil, adding to natural reservoirs of captured carbon called carbon sinks. Check out more about this startup here.
Source: CBC, The Keyword, Fast Company
Recommendations from the team
CBC Listen - The promise of trees as a climate solution
Britannica - A quiz on Trees: Giants Holding the Sky
CNBC - Can planting billions of trees halt climate change? (12 min video)