Nature’s carbon offsets

May 17, 2011

Why not plant a tree this week?

Trees are nature’s carbon dioxide sponges: as they grow, they inhale CO2 and lock it up semi-permanently into wood and roots.  It’s said that a single tree can absorb up to a tonne of emissions over its lifetime.

If you aspire to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle, make trees a part of your solution.  A typical Canadian household has emissions of over 20 tonnes a year, which can be offset by planting 20 trees annually.

Sort of – because there are two catches.  First, notice that’s 20 trees annually, to offset 20 tonnes of annual emissions.  Secondly, trees do lock up CO2 for a long time, but not permanently, because most of that CO2 is emitted back into the atmosphere when a tree dies and rots.

So the best strategy toward carbon neutrality starts with reducing our emissions by consuming less fossil fuel.  But when we’ve made our carbon footprint as small as possible, the next best thing is to offset the remainder – and that’s where planting trees comes in.  May, the month of returning life, is the perfect time.  June 5-11 is Canadian Environmental Week, with the theme, “Preserving our forests – protecting our future”.

You can obtain plenty of free tree seedlings in roadside ditches everywhere.  You can find great resources and information at Tree Canada.

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