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Trees: Sustainable Superstars 

“Sustainability” has been the buzzword for the past few decades, driving news articles and product campaigns around the world. You may have heard about the push to practice sustainable living, but how have you contributed to making the world a greener place? 

If the world population continues to grow at its current rate, it is estimated that we will need three planets' worth of natural resources to sustain our current way of life. If we don’t work to make a change, in the near future we will experience severe disease outbreaks, dangerous heat waves, food and water shortages, and poor air quality that makes it hard to breathe. 

The image above is from Shanghai, China, an extremely polluted city. A new study found that around 49,000 people have died from air pollution in Shanghai and Beijing since only the beginning of 2020. 

 You may have seen dreadful images of cities surrounded by dark clouds of smog that make you want to hold your breath. One of the most harmful gasses in the air is carbon dioxide. Human activities such as driving and heating homes can release too much CO2, contributing to climate change and poor air quality. Our pollution level would be dangerously high if it wasn’t for an unsuspected hero- plants, especially trees. Lucky for us, planting trees helps clean the air and makes it safer to breathe. 

 Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air and use it along with water and energy from the sun to create their own food during the amazing process of photosynthesis. In return, they release purified oxygen for us to breathe and water vapour that helps cool the air! 

The more a tree grows, the more food it needs to be self-sustained. This means that as a tree grows, it constantly absorbs more CO2 and purifies our air. Our partners plant Paulownia trees, one of the highest carbon dioxide neutralizing species. Within the next few years, it is predicted that we will be held accountable for our own carbon emissions. Each tree planted on a Smart Forest partner plantation has a Carbon Credit counter, allowing you to track exactly how much carbon dioxide your tree has absorbed throughout its lifetime. For each tree you invest in, its carbon credits can be used towards your personal carbon footprint, making you a sustainable investor! 

Trees can also increase water quality by acting as a barrier that stops toxic runoff from reaching water sources. Tree roots can filter and dilute pollutants that contaminate rainwater or runoff, decreasing water pollution in nearby water sources making it safer for us to use. Roots can also keep soil in place to prevent erosion and even natural disasters such as landslides and floods that are caused by loose soil. 

Rainforests are biodiversity hotspots and have some of the most established ecosystems in the world. One square kilometre of tropical rainforest can be home to over 1,000 unique species! 

Forests are home to 80% of the world’s biodiversity or a variety of living species. When the species in mature forests coexist they create a balanced ecosystem that can purify our air and water, control disease outbreaks, pollinate food for us to eat and promote an overall healthy environment necessary for our survival. Mature ecosystems can take hundreds of years to establish, only to be destroyed instantly by deforestation. Unique species all around the world are becoming extinct due to deforestation and disrupted natural habitats. Giant pandas, monarch butterflies, orangutans, and jaguars are just a few species now at risk of extinction. So how does investing in trees help? 

At Smart Forest, our partners plant trees on plantations created specifically for lumber harvest. In other words, lumber that would be harvested from natural forests can now be harvested from plantations instead, leaving natural forest ecosystems unscathed. Fast-growing plantation trees are up to 30 times as productive as trees from natural forests when it comes to producing lumber. This means that harvesting 1 hectare of plantation forest saves up to 30 hectares of the natural forest! Not only do plantation trees produce lumber more efficiently, they also save our natural forests and all of the species that rely on them!