In November 2006, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Nairobi, Kenya, launched a campaign to plant a billion trees in a single year. The Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign was intended to encourage people and organizations everywhere to take small but practical steps to reduce global warming.
An important part of this campaign’s story is that each of us can make a difference in small ways – even by planting a single tree! In his article “Top Ten Things You Can Do to Reduce Global Warming”, Larry West writes: “If you have the means to plant a tree, start digging. During photosynthesis, trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. They are an integral part of the natural atmospheric exchange cycle here on Earth, but there are too few of them to fully counter the increases in carbon dioxide caused by automobile traffic, manufacturing and other human activities. A single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.”
But it’s really important that you select the correct tree for your needs and available space. Trees planted too close to a house will eventually outgrow their space and be removed by a homeowner anxious about roots getting into the foundation or tree branches falling on the house. Trees needing shade won’t do well in full sunlight. If you want privacy, you may want a conifer tree (that stays green and keeps its needles (i.e., “leaves”) all year round instead of a deciduous tree that loses its leaves each winter. Or maybe you want a fruit tree so you can not only help global warming, but enjoy fresh fruit from your own tree!
So, before you start digging, take some time to think about what you would like your tree to do and find out which trees work best for your area. Check with your local plant nurseries and call your local University Extension office to get information on what trees do well in your area and for your particular needs. Once you narrow down your selection, you can get additional details about growing requirements in garden books for your area. Here in the West, Western Garden Book: The Right Plants for Your Climate provides tons of information on over 8,000 plants, including trees, to help you be successful in selection and planting of you tree…and your contribution to reducing the effects of global warming!