Why are trees so important?

Trees are vital to the planet. They give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. Not only are they essential for life, but as the longest living species on earth, they give us a link between the past, present and future so it’s critical that woodlands and rainforests are preserved and sustainably managed across the world. If your business is considering planting trees in the UK to help with your carbon offsetting, then read on for some key facts:

How many trees does the UK need to plant to help in the fight against climate change?

The Committee on Climate Change announced in March 2019 that we need to plant 30,000 hectares of trees each year until 2050 as part of measures to reduce UK carbon emissions. Reaching this target will require huge commitment from everyone, from individuals, to large landowners, to businesses and farmers. We not only need to plant and care for new trees, we also need to look after what we already have and encourage re-wilding, planting from seed, establishing and managing hedgerows, as well as boosting and bolstering the capacity of UK tree nurseries.

Tree planting, if followed up with proper aftercare, can play a key role in tackling climate change, but it is only one of the actions that we all need to take to address the climate emergency.

How do trees benefit the environment?

Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and the carbon that they store in their wood helps slow the rate of global warming. They reduce wind speeds and cool the air as they lose moisture and reflect heat upwards from their leaves. It’s estimated that trees can reduce the temperature in a city by up to 7°C. They can also help prevent flooding and soil erosion, absorbing thousands of litres of stormwater.

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How can trees benefit health?

The canopies of trees act as a physical filter, trapping dust and absorbing pollutants from the air with each individual tree removing up to 1.7 kilos every year. They also provide shade from solar radiation and reduce noise.

Over 20 species of British trees and shrubs are known to have medicinal properties and research has shown the wellbeing effect they have on humans. Within minutes of being surrounded by trees and green space blood pressure drops, heart rate slows and stress levels reduce.

How can trees benefit wildlife?

Trees host complex microhabitats. When young, they offer habitation and food to communities of birds, insects, lichen and fungi. When ancient, their trunks also provide the hollow cover needed by species such as bats, woodboring beetles, tawny owls and woodpeckers. In fact one mature oak can be home to as many as 500 different species.

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Which trees are the best to capture carbon?

There is not one simple answer to this question. For example, fast-growing trees will store the most carbon quickly but long-living trees can hold carbon for longer. In addition, new research states that hedgerows can help store significant carbon in their roots below ground, as well as above ground.

Over enthusiastic planting of any one tree species leaves the UK treescape more vulnerable to pests and diseases, as if a disease emerges that badly affects that tree species, it could wipe out millions of trees in one fell swoop.

The most important thing is to plant the right tree in the right place, to establish a diverse range of trees and to give them the best chance to grow into mature trees which have the greatest capacity for carbon capture.

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How do trees strengthen the economy?

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 and trees nearby for staff to enjoy on their breaks.

If you feel like you still can’t see the wood for the trees and would like some guidance about how your business can fulfil its ESG agenda then book a free, no-obligation 30-minute Zoom call with one of our carbon mentors.

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