TREES WE NEED

Trees are the biggest plants on the planet and vital in giving us oxygen, stabilise the soil, store carbon and supports life globally to all living plants, animals and the entire eco-system. 

As they grow they store carbon in their wood that helps slow the rate of global warming. They help prevent flooding, soil erosion, absorb thousands of litres of stormwater, trap dust, absorb pollutants from the air, provide shade from solar radiation and reduce noise.

Trees are home to thousands of different species and provide us with the materials for tools, construction and shelter. People are attracted to live, work and invest in green surroundings. Research shows that average house prices are 5-18% higher when properties are close to mature trees. Companies benefit from a healthier, happier workforce if there are parks, trees and forests nearby. The number of people with homes in cities will outstrip those living in the countryside making parks and trees even more vital component of urban life.

When we hear about endangered species we tend to think about animals first, but many plants and trees are also becoming scarce. Some may disappear from our planet forever if no appropriate action is taken. Over 8000 tree species, representing 10% of the planet’s trees, are threatened with extinction due to the degradation or destruction of woodland and forest habitat or unsustainable timber production according to the UK Royal Forestry Society.

Thousands of trees are at risk of extinction. The Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), based in London, compiled a list of tree species around the world recently and discovered 9,600 types of trees were threatened by extinction. Using data from 500 different botanical organizations around the globe, BGCI determined there are about 60,065 species of trees in the world. Deforestation and global warming have put many of them in danger, including 300 species they said were critically endangered after discovering only 50 or fewer remaining. Scientist blamed deforestation, weather events and human activity for the number of tree species facing extinction.

Trees are dying at unprecedented rates. New evidence shows that the climate is shifting so quickly, it’s putting many of the world’s trees in jeopardy. The declining health of trees globally is starting to have profound effects on Earth’s carbon cycle. The rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide has been picking up speed over the past few years, even though human CO2 emissions have flattened. The net effect: Climate change is starting to accelerate. Some tropical forests — in the Congo, the Amazon, and in Southeast Asia — have already shifted to a net carbon source. That means they emit more greenhouse gases than they absorb, worsening the climate problem worldwide. The world’s treescape is undergoing a significant shift in real time. And with the situation getting particularly desperate, conservationists are beginning to rethink which species belong where. They’re even considering speeding up forest transitions, so we can get to the next phase where trees are soaking up massive amounts of carbon again instead of bursting into flames. Forests are our last, best natural defence against global warming. Without the world’s trees at peak physical condition, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.

Trees perform three major climate functions: They absorb carbon, which they pull from the atmosphere, creating a cooling effect; their dark green leaves absorb light from the sun, heating Earth’s surface; and they draw water from the soil, which evaporates into the atmosphere, creating low clouds that reflect the sun’s hot rays (a mechanism known as Evo transpiration that also leads to cooling).

Trees are resilient and will somehow adapt or transform over time, however we are not ready for this fast rate of climate change. A thousand years from years from now there will be trees and different kinds of forests but we might not be here.

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