I remember hearing about the Billion Tree Campaign over a decade ago when it was formed, and once it achieved that goal the program announced that it has a new goal: plant a trillion trees! Now just to give you some perspective, there are a million seconds in 12 days, but it takes 31 years to get to a billion seconds. How much for a trillion seconds? 31,688 years. That’s a pretty major increase, isn’t it?

But it’s a worthy goal to reach for! And given that the campaign got that first billion planted in eleven months, and another six million were planted within the next two years, I think they have a pretty good shot at getting that trillion mark (even  if it may take a little longer.)

So why the emphasis on trees? Well, they’re important habitat, both as a forest and as individuals; a single mature tree can give shelter to dozens of species of animal, plant, fungus and lichen, never mind countless microbes. They help cool down their ecosystems by creating shade and through the water they exhale. And they’re able to store large quantities of carbon. Large, old-growth trees are particularly effective at this. However, they only store carbon in their living tissues, which means once a tree is cut down it releases its carbon. That means that logging trees adds to the carbon in the atmosphere, and it will take any new trees planted several decades to achieve the same carbon capture level. In that time the older trees could have sucked up way more carbon, so it’s best to just leave the trees be!

Plus trees are beautiful, and they add to the aesthetic appreciation and economic value of cities and rural areas alike. Cities that have more greenspace are better for your mental health, and they have reduced rates of crime. What’s not to love about all that?

Just please make sure you’re planting native species of tree, as non-native ones can be harmful invasives–here’s a comic about why that’s a problem! 

Relevant Links:

The Trillion Tree Campaign – http://www.trilliontreecampaign.org

Benefits of Trees – http://www.arborday.org/trees/benefits.cfm

Importance of Old Growth Forests: Carbon Capture Potential Grows With Age – https://www.ecowatch.com/importance-of-old-growth-forests-carbon-capture-potential-grows-with-a-1881849523.html

Mental Health Benefits From Green Spaces – http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/01/08/mental-health-benefits-from-green-spaces/64241.html

Another Reason to Love Urban Green Space: It Fights Crime – http://www.citylab.com/solutions/2016/04/vacant-lots-green-space-crime-research-statistics/476040/

Species portrayed: Garry oak (Quercus garryana)