As you probably thought, the best type of plant to plant in your yard is a tree. Simply put, trees are far larger than most vegetation species and, therefore, can absorb a lot more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and emit oxygen, which helps our species. As kings of the plant world, trees have much more “woody biomass” to store CO2 than smaller plants. As a result, trees are considered nature’s most efficient “carbon sinks.” It is this characteristic that makes planting trees a form of climate change mitigation.
Tree species that grow quickly and live long are ideal carbon sinks. Unfortunately, these two attributes are usually mutually exclusive. These trees are especially good at storing and absorbing CO2: The common horse-chestnut, black walnut, American sweetgum, ponderosa pine, red pine, white pine, London plane, Hispaniola pine, Douglas fir, scarlet oak, red oak, Virginia live oak, and bald cypress.
Some trees are better than others when it comes to preventing climate change. Ultimately, however, trees of any shape, size, and genetic origin help absorb CO2. Most scientists agree that the least expensive and perhaps the easiest way for individuals to help offset the CO2 they generate in their everyday lives is to plant a tree…any tree, as long as it is appropriate for the given region and climate.
When trees absorb carbon out of the atmosphere, they store it as wood. So if you’re trying to figure out which trees to plant on your property, consider a fast-growing tree species, like maple, oak, or catalpa.
Beyond the specific species that tend to grow faster than others, it gets pretty complicated to figure out which trees will grow the fastest in a particular area. That depends on a lot of factors: soil, conditions, local climate, etc.
If you’re really concerned about carbon emissions into the atmosphere, it’s also best to use the wood you harvest if you end up cutting down trees. Turning trees into lumber instead of leaving them to the elements prevents them from decomposing, adding some carbon to the atmosphere. Furthermore, if you have a house by the beach or lake and can’t really plant trees, certain seagrass, algae, and seaweed types can perform as great carbon sinks.
Study researcher James Fourqurean of Florida International University said in a statement, “Seagrasses have the unique ability to continue to store carbon in their roots and soil in coastal seas. We found instances where particular seagrass beds have been storing carbon for thousands of years. The study was the first global analysis of how much carbon is stored in seagrasses and demonstrates that coastal seagrass beds store up to 83,000 metric tons (about 91,000 short tons) of carbon per square kilometer (about 0.4 square miles), mostly in the soils below them.
By making these efforts, you’re doing the environment a seriously awesome favor!
Posted on March 29, 2021
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