The world is getting warmer. Each decade is hotter than the last as we continue to add heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at an alarming rate.

The impact is more complex than rising temperatures and melting polar ice caps. It’s changing the world around us, causing extreme weather across the globe - storms, flooding and drought.

We’re in a race against time to fight the effects of climate change and reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

And that’s where trees come in. They have a major role to play in taking in carbon dioxide – one of the most prominent greenhouse gases – and locking up the carbon for centuries.

They do this through photosynthesis.

The leaves of growing trees absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen and locking up the carbon until the tree eventually dies and, decays, or is burnt. Some of the carbon from falling leaves enters the woodland soil and is stored there for the long term, making the entire woodland ecosystem an important carbon store.

Photosynthesis is powered by light and uses carbon dioxide and water to make glucose…

  • Light hits the leaves.
  • Carbon dioxide enters through the stomata on the underside of the leaves and water is transported to the leaves from the roots up the trunk.
  • Chlorophyll, a green pigment in the chloroplast of leaves, sets off a reaction between the C02 and the water using energy from the light.
  • The result is glucose, used by the trees to grow, and oxygen released back into the atmosphere as a waste product.
  • The carbon atoms end up inside the glucose and become the building blocks that trees use to grow. It forms the trunk, branches, leaves and roots - a solid tower of carbon providing a lifeline to thousands of species.

Native woods and trees are our allies in the fight against climate change. We need to find the space for them to grow and thrive, locking away carbon for generations to come and safeguarding our planet for the future.

 

More on trees and climate change

Woods and trees are one of the best ways to tackle climate change. Explore the facts.

Looking up into canopy, Tring Park

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