PLANTING TREES AND CLEANING THE PLANET
by Marina Orhei
MONACO. Trees are like the lungs of the planet. They breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Additionally, they provide habitat for birds and other wildlife. … Mature trees can absorb roughly 48 pounds of CO2 a year. To see just how much trees are essential to the planet and to humans, let’s look at the following statistics:
CO2 is one of the major contributing elements to the greenhouse effect. Trees trap CO2 from the atmosphere and make carbohydrates that are used for plant growth. They give us oxygen in return. According to Colorado Tree.org, a volunteer organization with a mission to lead state wide efforts to preserve, renew, and enhance community forests, about 800 million tons of carbon are stored in the trees that make up the urban forests of the U.S.
This translates to a savings of $22 billion in control costs. Mature trees can absorb roughly 48 pounds of CO2 a year. The tree in turn releases enough oxygen to sustain two human beings.
Trees also help to reduce ozone levels in urban areas. In New York City, a 10 per cent increase in urban canopy translated to a reduction of peak ozone levels by around 4 parts per billion. (Source: Luley, Christopher J.; Nowak, David J. 2004. Help Clear the Smog with Your Urban Forest: What You and Your Urban Forest Can Do About Ozone.)
Trees reduce urban runoff and erosion by storing water and breaking the force of rain as it falls. The USDA reports that 100 mature trees can reduce runoff caused by rainfall by up to 100,000 gallons!
Trees also absorb sound and reduce noise pollution. This is especially important for people who live near freeways. In some cases, a well planted group of trees can reduce noise pollution by up to 10 decibels. (Source: New Jersey Forest Service.)
Additionally, trees shade asphalt and trees, reducing what is know as the “Heat Island” effect. The USA Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has some great information on how planting trees and other vegetation can help to reduce the urban heat island effect.
As for Monaco, a considerable step forward has been recorded thanks to the success of the “Quality of life” first Conference, a “social good” initiative promoted recently by Mr Romeo Ferrero in the Principality.
A social good is something that benefits the largest number of people in the largest possible way, such as clean air, clean water, healthcare, and literacy. Also known as “common good,” social good can trace its history to Ancient Greece philosophers and implies a positive impact on individuals or society in general. It also provides the basis for charity or philanthropic work.
As for Monaco, HSH Prince Albert II has launched The Trillion Tree Campaign during the Plant Ahead Conference that took place in Monaco on March 2018
The Campaign is joined with the “Plant with us!” Organization. Seven young people from Plant-for-the-Planet Foundation have released the ‘Plant-for-the-Planet App’, which allows anyone to plant trees around the world with only a few clicks. The App is part of the Trillion Tree Campaign, which is contributing to global reforestation and climate mitigation efforts. The Plant-for-the-Planet Web-App presents Tree Planting Organizations from all over the world. This way everybody can easily help to plant trees! No matter when or where you are, it’s never been easier to save the climate and do something good. Because global reforestation binds at least a quarter of the annual man-made CO2 emissions and at the same time creates prosperity in the Global South. Global reforestation could capture 25% of global annual carbon emissions and create wealth in the global south. Instead, since August 2019 wildfires are ripping through the Amazon rainforest at an unprecedented rate.
Much of the Amazon rainforest is particularly vulnerable because it is made up of lowland, wetland forests which are not well-equipped to deal with fire. Some forests – like those in the western part of the United States – are adapted to fire and it is an important part of a forest ecosystem’s natural cycle. Even in the wider Amazon basin itself, the Cerrado region is fire adapted. It is a large savannah, and lots of plants there have thick, corky, fire resistant stems. However, that region faces additional risks: namely, deforestation to make way for soy plants. Large areas of forest create their own weather. If wildfires ravage them, a delicate balance is upset. It is possible that the Amazon will be caught in a vicious circle that could dramatically speed up forest loss and take the ecosystem past the point of no return, despite its large size.
As forests are less able to regulate their own rainfall and weather patterns, they can become progressively drier and prone to fires. Water released by rainforests influences the water cycle of the entire planet. The Amazon alone contributes to 20% of the world’s oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. As the rainforest decreases, so does its ability to support the rest of the planet. Large forests absorb carbon from the atmosphere, slowing the pace of climate change. Burning the Amazon means humanity is sabotaging its own life support system. Most troubling of all: some scientists suggest the Amazon may already be nearing a tipping point. The region has been so degraded that even a small uptick in deforestation could send the forest hurtling toward a transition to something resembling a woodland savanna, according to an analysis last year by two top scientists,Thomas E. Lovejoy and Carlos Nobre. In addition to forever destroying huge sections of the world’s largest rainforest, that shift would release tremendous quantities of planet-warming greenhouse gases, which could hasten the decline of whatever forest remained. If nothing changes soon, we can expect the degradation of freshwater systems, loss of biodiversity, soil washing into the sea, smaller agricultural yields, increased insect infestation, and the spread of infectious diseases.
What you can do to help the Amazon rainforest: Lobby your local MP to discuss the Amazon wildfires in Parliament. Donate to charities working directly on rainforest conservation, including The Rainforest Alliance and the World Wildlife Fund and install The Plant-for-the-Planet Web-App on your smartphone. Join The Trillion Trees Campaign and the Plant Ahed Declaration signed on 9 March 2018 in Monaco by Prince Albert II and 30 Guests of Honor.
Plant trees in your garden ground and neighborhood alike. Be careful about where your meat comes from, especially beef. Eat meat farmed locally. Rainforest beef is typically found in fast food or processed beef products.
According to the Global Commission on Adaptation, investing USD 1.8 trillion globally in five areas of adaptation from 2020 to 2030 could generate USD 7.1 trillion in total net benefits.
The African Development Bank seeks to increase adaptation funding commitments to USD 12.5 billion for 2020-2025.
USD 790 million has been committed in support of climate adaptation for small-scale food producers.
The Adaptation Fund received close to USD 60 million in new pledges.
The World Bank and Germany launched a fund towards a USD 1 billion program to address land degradation and support climate-resilient landscapes, with a EUR 200 million kickstart contribution from Germany.