We are delighted to share this timely reminder of the importance of trees in the fight against climate change from our Kenyan correspondent Lawrence Ogango.
Climate change is so broad a subject that we could take a whole century should we decide to talk about it. It is the long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns, with the causes being both natural and human-induced. According to the United Nations, since the 1800s to date, the primary cause of climate change has been activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, e.g. coal.
Climate change is inevitable in the fast-growing world economies because a big percentage of our raw materials come from natural resources; one example is oil which is used to generate energy for use in different industries. Balancing economic growth and environmental conservation is almost impossible. We are well aware of the need to take action and here is where the natural ways of combating climate change come through. Probably by now, you have a clue as to what I am talking about and yes, you are right because it is true that trees play a role not just in combating climate change but in protecting the environment too.
Here is a quick reminder of three ways in which they help.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air hence moderating the amount of it in the atmosphere. They convert it, by photosynthesis, into clean, pure oxygen and carbon, in the form of carbohydrates for energy and growth. Some of this carbon ends up being stored in the soil too.
Carbon dioxide is as important as oxygen but when it is in excess, it causes the global temperatures to rise and leads to climate change. So trees really are the lungs of the earth, they help the planet breathe! How brilliant!
Prevention of soil erosion
Tree roots can reduce or prevent soil erosion by holding the soil tightly together. This effect is greater when there are trees growing together, such as in a forest. They give stability when there is excess rainfall or flooding and water runoff. Some trees have long and extensive root systems and native species, which are adapted to their environment, are especially important – for example, those found beside rivers may be vital to holding the banks together.
The canopy protects the soil by reducing the impact caused by raindrops while a group of trees will act as a windbreak, thus reducing erosion by the wind.
Filtration of pollutants and nutrients
Their extensive root systems help in the filtration of nutrients and pollutants from underground water and stormwater runoff. This retains vital nutrients in the soil and helps to clean the water that enters our waterways.
Trees really are extraordinary. I bet you now have three good reasons to plant ten trees today!
If you would like more details about the functions mentioned above, pleases check out these other articles on our website:
The Value Of Trees: Carbon Capture
The Value Of Trees: Soil Protection