Trees; Most Effective Tool for Climate Change

Carbon capturing trees like these 12 new Mesa Oak trees were planted on Warner Drive in Carthay Circle in 2018 by local residents working with the City could be our most effective tool to mitigate the effects of climate change.

To add to all the benefits of trees already known to us—beauty, shade, health, safety, well-being, and even classroom and office creativity and productivity— researchers in Zurich, Rome and Montpellier have identified significant climate benefits. Mapping the Earth’s tree current canopy and its carrying capacity, they determined that reforestation wherever possible would be “the most effective solution at our disposal to mitigate climate change.”

The researchers conclude that “the restoration of forested land at a global scale could help capture atmospheric carbon and mitigate climate change.” Bastin et al. used direct measurements of forest cover to generate a model of forest restoration potential across the globe (see the Perspective by Chazdon and Brancalion). Their spatially explicit maps show how much additional tree cover could exist outside of existing forests and agricultural and urban land. Ecosystems could support an additional 0.9 billion hectares of continuous forest. This would represent a greater than 25% increase in forested area, including more than 500 billion trees and more than 200 gigatonnes of additional carbon at maturity. Such a change has the potential to cut the atmospheric carbon pool by about 25%.”

Their findings published July 5th in the leading journal  Science have been widely covered, including an article yesterday in the New York Times and last week in The Guardian.  To dig into the maps they generated, readers can go to senior author Thomas Crowther’s lab, The Crowther Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH-Zürich, and explore global reforestation potential: https://www.crowtherlab.com/maps-2/.

Closer to home, the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks is actively engaged in park reforestation; City Plants, a public-private partnership funded by the L.A. Department of Water and Power, works with non-profits and City departments to plant trees in low canopy neighborhoods; the Los  Angeles Beautification Team (LABT) along with other programs, plants trees and partners with schools, and TreePeople gathers volunteers to expand tree canopy across LA as well as the mountain and wilderness areas of Southern California.

Standing in the shade of a tree this summer is a direct reminder of the many individual, collective and planetary benefits of trees. This could be a good time to get involved in expanding our canopy and enhancing our climate.

100 year-old Montezuma Cypress Tree in Windsor Square is being trimmed and attended to by the family at this residence who is lucky enough to also have a cedar deodar in their front yard.

This story was updated to correctly identify the cedar deodar tree in the second photo. Thanks to Buzz reader Ann Rubin for the correction!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

4 thoughts on “Trees; Most Effective Tool for Climate Change

    1. Excellent point! The researchers note “However, it remains unclear whether these restoration goals are achievable because we do not know how much tree cover might be possible under current or future climate conditions or where these trees could exist.” Time is of the essence!

  1. Carthay Circle HPOZ is thrilled to be in this Buzz article about the importance of our city trees for our health and survival. Thank you for this story! We’re now up to 17 new parkway Mesa Oaks on Warner. These were planted by KYCC — Korean Youth Community Center in partnership with the Carthay Circle Neighborhood Association’s Beautification Committee, Dept. of Urban Forestry, and our HPOZ office (which approves all trees on our parkways). We value and protect our new and mature and even very old trees in our urban environment. 90% of LA’s urban forest is on private property — so if you’re fortunate to have a yard, consider planting a new tree for the benefit of your family and everyone.

  2. Trees are great! But the most effective thing we all can do to mitigate climate change is to stop driving gas engine automobiles. And PLEASE don’t go to your car, turn on the engine, and then start texting or looking at social media or news. TURN OFF YOUR ENGINE when you are looking at your phone! That’s very simple, and you can start doing that today, while you find an electric vehicle to replace your dinosaur gas engine automobile.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *