Plants Can Save the World
With the climate in slow but steady shift, and temperatures in Phoenix breaking records year after year, many are wondering how residents can adapt to broad scale and adverse changes in our world. While some attempt to prevent, others prepare.
Adaptation is especially important in an urban environment like the Valley. Planting trees is a part of that adaptation by creating a living, shady shield against rising temperatures; a strategy that is being embraced by Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson. Each one of these cities has an urban forest master plan or an initiative to plant upwards of a million trees by DATE
Both Phoenix and Tempe, aim to increase their tree canopies from 13% to 25% by 2030; which can help cool pavement and hardscapes, remove particulate matter from the atmosphere and store and sequester carbon. Tempe’s Urban Forestry Master Plan projects that an increase in tree canopy to 25% can reduced ambient city temperatures by 4.3º F. When Valley temperatures are 112, 110 or even 105 degrees, a 4.3 reduction can have a big impact on the Valley’s health, water usage and cooling costs.
Planting trees allows us to act in concert with global efforts. Nationally, urban forests store up to 770 million tons of carbon: removing this heat trapping greenhouse gas for the medium term. Since the advent of human agriculture, the Earth has lost half of its 6 trillion trees. So, planting trees serves everyone: from individuals to families; communities, cities, nation and wildlife; to the very biosphere itself.
Planting trees is something nearly anyone can do, in your own yard or in a community space such as a school, church, park or private business. Every single tree helps, but which tree to plant matters.
Results and impact are the most sustainable when the urban forest mimics the flora of the region. For us that means desert trees: mesquites, ironwoods, palo verdes and desert willows. Arid adapted trees help too by adding variety to the aesthetic landscape, but native trees are most compatible with our area and native wildlife, and are more synergetic with Arizona’s water supply. Do this, and not only will you have a tree to enjoy for many years, but you can help repair the frayed biodiversity of our world while preparing for a climate that is changing.