Trees: How Do They Help?

Our forests are incredibly important for climate protection and our biodiversity. Planting trees is therefore a high priority. We want to do our own part and support companies that plant a tree as compensation for every product purchased. But how much can planting trees really achieve? Can I even plant trees in my own home? And how can I protect our existing trees?

Trees need care

The larger and the older a tree, the more CO2 it can store. Therefore, young trees in particular need sufficient care to enable them to store a lot of CO2 in the first place. So it is not enough to just put the young plants in the ground. They also need regular sufficient care (e.g. fine cutting of brushwood) and water. In the following years, the plantation must be “mowed free”, i.e. the competition of mostly herbaceous vegetation is removed.

Not all tree species are the same
A spruce stores less CO2 than a pine, oak or beech. You can find out how much CO2 each tree species stores here>. In addition, some tree species are more susceptible to drought, frost or pest infestation than others. If the trees die, the stored CO2 is released during decomposition.

Mixed forests instead of monocultures
It is not only animal biodiversity that benefits. Mixed forests bind CO2 longer and more stably than monocultures. In addition, their diversity makes them much more resistant to environmental impacts such as drought or pest infestation.

Peatlands and oceans are also important CO2 reservoirs
Our oceans store about 30 percent of the world’s CO2 (source: Quarks). Although peatlands only account for 3 percent of the world’s land area, they store 450 gigatons of carbon, which is more than all the world’s forests combined (source: ZDF).

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Forests cannot compensate for everything
To stop climate change by planting trees alone, we would have to reforest huge areas of forests. One study estimates that this would require an area the size of the United States. But not all areas are suitable – some are too cold, others too dry. So we can’t simply compensate for our flight by planting trees.

Conclusion: Planting trees is right and important, but it only makes a difference if climate-stable mixed forests are planted and regularly maintained. Planting trees alone is not enough to stop climate change, because we must also protect moors and oceans and, above all, significantly reduce our emissions.

How can I plant trees?

Eine Hand hält ein Herz aus Erde. Darin befindet sich eine kleine Pfalnze. Das Bild steht symbolisch für Bäume pflanzen

Now that you know what’s important when planting trees, you’re probably wondering how you can best get started. There are several ways to do this. It is particularly effective and trustworthy if you yourself actively participate in a tree planting campaign. You can also plant your own tree on your own doorstep or financially support an organization that plants trees for you. Here we show you what you can look out for in the various areas:

  1. participate in tree planting events
    At tree planting events you can plant dozens of trees within a few hours together with other committed helpers. Usually, no special skills are necessary. The motto is clear: Everyone can participate! Planting events usually take place in the fall.
  1. plant trees at home
    Dreaming of growing your own tree at home? It’s great but it’s also not a walk in the park, because growing trees from seeds is very time-consuming. Still, it’s definitely worth a try. By the way, deciduous trees can also be propagated very well from cuttings. You can find out how this works here >. For sowing from seed we have the following tips for you:
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Find seeds
For the seeds to germinate it is important that they are absolutely fresh. You can, of course, buy from dealers:inside. But it is much easier to go to the forest in autumn and collect them yourself. Native tree species include acorns, chestnuts, beechnuts, fir and pine cones. Then put the cones in a warm room and wait until they open and you can take out the seeds.

Sowing seeds
The best time to sow seeds is in the fall, because our native trees need frosty temperatures to germinate. Pine and beech seeds should also be soaked in water before sowing, so that the shell breaks open. Normal garden soil mixed with a little sand is suitable for sowing. Now choose small growing containers that you fill with the soil-sand mixture and sprinkle a thin layer of sand on top. Now form a small hollow, place the seed in it and sprinkle some more soil on top. Then water the container well and put it outside.

  1. supported organizations
    Can’t find the time to plant trees yourself and would rather support organizations in their planting efforts? This is a great thing! You should know beforehand that there are always critical reports about such providers (e.g. this report by STRG_F) and it is important to critically question planting offers.

To help you find your way through the jungle of countless organizations, we have a few tips for you here:

How can I protect trees?

Drought, colder winters and pest infestations – caused by man-made climate change – are to blame. Our young trees (under 60 years old) are particularly affected. Almost 80 percent of all trees have crown damage, i.e. crown thinning. You want to do something about it and get involved for healthy trees?

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  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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