As we learned in third grade biology, trees are essential to life. They create the very air we breathe and filter air pollution.
What you may not know is that trees also build soil and help soak up stormwater before it can create a flood, and they offer energy-saving shade that reduces global warming and creates habitat for thousands of different species. Trees also help to reduce ozone levels in urban areas.
Most importantly, trees sequester carbon, helping to remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the air, which cools the earth. In fact, a mature canopy tree absorbs enough carbon and releases enough oxygen to sustain two human beings!
The carbon storage capacity of forests is approximately three times as large as the pool of carbon in the atmosphere. If forests are changed, reduced, or eliminated, the captured carbon goes into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2).
Despite their importance to life as we know it, humans have cut down half of all the trees on the planet so far. Every year we cut down over 50,000 square miles of forest worldwide for paper, agriculture, building materials and fuel. That’s an area the size of the state of Alabama! Every year!
The carbon release from deforestation accounts for 25 to 30 percent of the four to five billion tons of carbon accumulating every year in the atmosphere from human activities.