Trees are helping to tackle climate change by keeping us cool

Amidst the latest heatwave, we have been discussing just how great trees are at tackling climate change whilst keeping us cool when temperatures go up. 

Local warming

If you live in a built-up area, the temperature will be noticeably higher than those of us that live in more rural areas. This is because built-up areas hold, generate and store more heat, also known as local warming. 

Hot across the pond

If you think it’s warm here in the UK, in cities across the USA temperatures are rising at almost twice the rate as the rest of the planet. It’s one of the many worrying effects of climate change. The rising temperatures pose a serious health risk, especially to the vulnerable, elderly and young. Las Vegas, Phoenix and cities in the Southwest are America’s fastest warming cities, becoming 4.3°F hotter since the 1970’s. It’s clear that action is needed, and planting trees could be a simple and sustainable solution.

Urban trees

Research has shown that planting trees in urban areas can reduce the temperature by 10 degrees centigrade. That can make a big difference on a balmy summer day in the city.

By planting healthy urban trees, water vapour will be naturally released in the process of evapotranspiration giving a vital cooling effect. Larger trees with big leaves, of course, provide the best cooling results. While the leaves absorb and reflect solar radiation, we are left with cooler and more humid shade under their protective canopy.

Cutting CO2

As well as helping to keep us cool, planting trees worldwide is one of the most effective ways of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere, thus helping to tackle climate change even further. 

How? As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon emissions that are driving global warming. As a result, the entire woodland Ecosystem plays a considerable role in locking up carbon. A young woodland can absorb over 400 tons of carbon per hectare, including the soil, leaves, and roots.

Trees are our most potent weapon against climate change. They’re more than just carbon capturers.

It’s not all about capturing carbon and cooling us down. Trees have other superpowers, including:

  • Flood prevention

  • Reduce air pollution

  • Keep soil nutrient-rich

  • Reduce city temperatures

Trees matter more than ever

For many people, trees are still undervalued as a climate solution. We need to stop thinking of trees as an amenity. Instead, they need to become part of our infrastructure the same way as roads and sewers are. They are vital in our fight against climate change. Especially in our cities, they can help reduce air temperature and pollution, keeping us cooler and more comfortable. 

If you are interested in finding out more, there is a document that has been published by Forest research that explains the role of urban trees and green spaces in reducing the air temperature. 

Tags: ,


How can we help?