Planting trees for climate change

You may wonder what climate change and global warming have to do with tree care and planting trees, but you will be surprised at the connection. However, firstly, it’s important to understand what climate change is and what it means to you.


What is Climate Change?

Climate change relates to climate patterns, natural processes that are a part of our earth’s history. They became more apparent around the late 20th century, and are thought to be caused by the sun’s energy, earth surface changes, the greenhouse effect, and atmospheric carbon dioxide linked to the use of fossil fuels.


What is The Greenhouse Effect?

The greenhouse effect is a process that warms up the surface of the earth. It’s both natural, through the likes of volcanic eruptions, and caused by humanity. Earth is only warm enough for us to inhabit it because of the greenhouse gases, equating to a temperature of around 15 degrees. However, because humans are creating more greenhouses gases, they are warming up the earth. So far, humanity has increased the earth’s temperature by around 35 percent.


What Can Tree Care and Planting Trees do for Climate Change?

It can still be confusing to understand how planting trees and partaking in tree care can make a difference to climate change, but trees play a pivotal role. One of the major gases responsible for much of global warming is carbon dioxide, produced by humans burning coal and oil and other fossil fuels. It’s also natural, but not at the same high levels.


By planting trees, you can offset the greenhouse gasses you are putting into the environment. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, storing it within themselves. The more trees we plant and grow, the more we can benefit from fewer emissions and more forested land.


How New Zealanders Can Do Their Part

You might think that you, one lone Kiwi, can’t do a lot to help climate change or our country. However, there is plenty you can do. You can gift native trees to loved ones for birthdays and other special events, start tree registries for special events and become involved in your community meetings with a focus on planting more trees.


You can also fund trees if you have the opportunity and ability to donate to a good cause, and ask councils to plant trees for the benefit of waterways, erosion reduction, and biodiversity. You might think that one person can’t do much, but planting trees and tree care is something that everyone can do.


However, beyond tree care and tree planting, there are also other things you can do. You can reduce energy consumption in your home or business, opt for alternative sources of power such as solar, and travel smarter by walking or biking instead of driving your car. New Zealand wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below its 2005 level, but we need your help to do it.


Where Does New Zealand Stand with Climate Change?

Being isolated from the rest of the world in little ol’ New Zealand can make many people feel like significant world events don’t impact them. When it comes to climate change and global warming, however, they do. We are blessed here in New Zealand to be able to produce 80 percent of our energy through renewable sources, but we also have a much higher portion of production in the food industry which emits a significant amount of greenhouse gases. It takes ten times more energy to produce one kilogram of meat than it does to produce one kilogram of grains.


How to Plant a Native Tree

If you want to do your part for New Zealand, climate change, and the world, then you can start by planting a native tree. However, as not everyone is born with green fingers, it’s a process that might take some figuring out. You can ask for expert assistance, or you can talk to your local garden store worker when you buy a beautiful native tree.


1. Time of year

The best time of year for tree planting is between April and May or August to September. If you plant in a drier time of year, you will spend much of your time watering them to keep them alive.


2. Get the site ready

Prepare the site by watering it and keeping the plant cool. Dig a wide hole with room for the tree’s roots to grow.


3. Plant the tree

Remove the tree from its bag and place it in the hole. Cover the roots with a thin layer of soil, compacting it down on each layer. Plant it up to the same area as it came in the garden bag. Make the top layer loose soil and water it.


4. Tree care

Now the fun begins! Create a mulch out of old newspapers, cardboard, and carpet, covering it with wet bark chips and straw or compost. Doing so helps to keep moisture in the ground while protecting the tree’s roots and stopping the growth of weeds. If you manage to retain moisture well, you will only need to water once per week in hot conditions, or less with correct mulch layers. Shade and cover the ground until the trees are well established – at around two or three years old.


Climate change is all of our problem, and the more we can do to fix it, the better off the planet will be. Take the time to find out more about climate change today, or get involved in planting trees and tree care. You will be glad you did.

Zach White