Keeping it simple

In recent years, it’s become very common to hear people talking about carbon capture, off-setting carbon emissions and (in more scientific discussions) carbon sequestration. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s something even more fundamental that trees are doing constantly – helping our water supply. At the time of writing this, it's been the driest start to summer on record, so water is more of a hot topic than ever. 

“Carbon can seem abstract to many people, but a glass of drinking water – that’s a tangible thing,” says  David Gaveau from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). One 3m tree takes in over 4000 litres of water in one growing season, which is released as water vapour, driving our water cycle. Over land, 70% of moisture is generated from plants and trees, and it’s such a powerful process that it can actually be seen from space. The tiny particles emitted by trees in their vapour helps rain form by giving moisture a surface to condense onto – this summer, more than ever, we all appreciate how important rain is for environment.

You might think that trees in dry areas absorb all of the water and leave none for those living off the land but that isn’t the case – as a study by Ulrik Ilstedt from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has shown.

“In the drylands of Africa, if you start planting trees you get an initial rise in the amount water in the landscape, because the trees actually use less water than the amount of additional water they allow to infiltrate through the soil.”

Douglas Sheil from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences

What’s even more impressive is their ability to filter water – they absorb pollutants and filter water back into natural water systems, which benefits both plants and wildlife, and humans (as it saves money in water treatment at the other end).

As much as trees do some really complex, amazing things, never forget the basics – they essentially give us air AND water. We have planted over 1.5 million trees in the Forest area, but we want to plant another 5 million to keep the planet hydrated and make the area even better. Help us by donating below, or just visiting the Forest Centre – all money made there goes back to planting trees, ultimately. Do your bit for the planet – help us to 5 million!

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