There's Never Been A Better Time To Get To Know Trees...
Forests cover 30% of the world’s land surface, and are home to around 90% of the world’s land-based animals, plants, insects and birds. They are also one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, absorbing 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and storing billions more.
Around 6 million hectares of virgin forest is lost or changed each year, and as much as a fifth of global emissions are estimated to come from deforestation. Halting this destruction is seen as vital for forests to act as a stabilising force for the climate.
As well as mitigating climate change forests can supply other benefits such as improving biodiversity, air and water quality, support livelihoods, and supply goods and services that can drive sustainable growth. And this is just as true in the UK as it is in the Amazon.
Because of the ability of trees to capture carbon new policies are being introduced that will drive tree planting in the UK. We have lost much of our historic forests and associated range of habitats, and the UK’s 13% tree cover is well below the European average of 37%. The independent Climate Change Committee has recommended increasing UK tree cover from 13% to 18%, improving woodland management and adopting agroforestry to contribute to the UK’s net zero target by 2050.
In the urban environment, trees also help adapt to climate change in many ways. Large shade trees planted on the streets and beside buildings can directly reduce temperatures, keeping buildings cooler and reducing the need for air conditioning. Rainstorms are predicted to become more intense due to climate change. Trees can decrease flooding as their leaves and branches intercept water, reducing the amount of run-off when it rains at the same time as filtering pollutants from traffic. Close proximity of urban residents to greenspace has been shown to have both mental and physical health benefits through increased physical activity and a reduction in levels of stress.