Here's a Great Reason to Hold On Tight to Old Growth Trees

by Leah Feor July 15, 2016

Carbon Sequestration and Old Growth Trees

While it’s understandable that there is a lot to grasp when it comes to carbon, it’s important that we begin to familiarize ourselves with the topic, and not shy away from it. 

That being said, I’d like to try to offer up some basics – particularly as it relates to trees.  In a previous blog, we discussed how trees clean the air because they absorb carbon.  A fancier way of saying that is carbon sequestration. 

Once I learned this term, I started to see it everywhere.  There are different ways that carbon can be sequestered; however a natural and effective way is through trees.  Trees sequester the carbon and hold onto it which results in carbon stock.

It’s an incredible process that occurs through photosynthesis.  Leaves on trees take the energy from the sunlight and transform carbon dioxide and water into sugar that feeds their growth.  All the while, the tree releases oxygen into the air.

In the infographic series about tree cover, I mention the carbon stock (storage) level in near every blog because it shows the importance of healthy forests if we would like to move towards lowering carbon emissions and carbon levels in the atmosphere. 

See how it all comes together? The equation is quite straight forward. 

If we want to reduce the effects of climate change, we need to lower carbon levels.  Trees and forests help with this process because they sequester or store carbon. 

Deforestation and loss of tree cover hinders this process because it releases carbon into the atmosphere which in turn warms the Earth.

While the general idea is easy to follow, there is a strong science behind which regions and trees best sequester carbon.  The type of tree matters since it works directly with the ecosystem network.  The more compatible the tree is with the ecosystem, the more effective it will be in carrying out its functions.

For a tree to realize a high level of effectiveness, it needs time and the right conditions to grow.  This is why old growth trees are so important in our efforts to mitigate the risks of climate change.

“Scientists have long known that redwood trees, because they can live more than 1,000 years and grow to immense heights, are able to capture significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

If we are looking towards sustainable development, conservation is fundamental.  There are some parts of nature that are irreplaceable.  There are others – like old growth trees – that take centuries to replace.

Given that we don’t have an abundance of time to turn down the temperature of a warming planet, I hope you’ll agree that much like fossil fuel, we need to keep trees in the ground.

Comment below or get the conversation going with us on social media about the importance of trees in our efforts to act on climate.

Leah Feor
Leah Feor


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