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By Stephanie Wagner

“OMG – I get it!” exclaimed Mona as she grabbed my arm, “Trees grow out of thin air!” We were walking the trails at Tryon Creek as part of a workshop for elementary school teachers exploring why “Trees are Terrific”.  That morning, we had been delving into photosynthesis and how trees put on mass by building carbon compounds using carbon dioxide in the air and energy from the sun. It is not necessarily intuitive that the solid wood in a tree started out as a gas in the atmosphere.  But that is exactly what happens and understanding that process is part of understanding why trees and plants are so important in fighting climate change.  Trees (and other green plants) take carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, out of the atmosphere and store it as a solid mass.  On a global scale, this biomass stores around 20% of the earth’s carbon.  When trees are cut down this biomass is reduced and more carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere. Thriving forests are an important part or mitigating climate change.  Every tree makes a difference. For more information click here.

Trees also help us use less energy in our homes. When this energy is produced from fossil fuels using less helps fight climate change.  Trees around a home can lower summer temperatures from 4 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit through shading and transpiration. We all know that it is cooler in the shade since the direct heat in sunlight is reflected away.  Cooling through transpiration happens when water passing through a tree or plant evaporates from the leaves.  It is the same phenomenon as when we spray water on our skin to cool off on a hot day.   Cooler temperatures reduce the amount of energy used for air conditioning.  In the winter, trees can form windbreaks that reduce the amount of heat lost from our homes resulting in saved energy.

Trees really are Terrific – Let’s keep thinking about how we can all protect our precious urban forest, reduce energy expenditures and take action to fight climate change. Are you looking for a way to connect with community members who also care about trees and taking action to enhance our urban forest network? Join us for our second annual Tree Summit, which will be hosted via Zoom on Saturday, November 21st from 10:00-12:00. Registration is required, don’t miss out!