The second in a series of blogs honoring the United Nation’s 2015 International Day of Forests
On Saturday, March 21, the U.S. Forest Service will celebrate the United Nation’s International Day of Forests. With such an important worldwide recognition of all forests do for us humans, the Forest Service would like folks to ask themselves: Do I really know how much trees contribute to my daily life?
Or, in another words, what is the power of one tree?
Just as we humans are comprised of many parts functioning together allowing us to do wondrous things, the anatomy of a tree is just as wondrous, empowering them with super hero qualities.
What am I talking about? A tree has the ability to provide an essential of life for all living things on our planet – oxygen, and the power to remove harmful gases like carbon dioxide making the air we breathe healthier.
Here is how it works:
To keep it simple a tree is comprised of its leaves, stems, trunk and its roots. When you look at a tree, note that about five percent of the tree is comprised of its leaves, 15 percent its stems, 60 percent goes into its trunk and 20 percent is devoted to its roots.
Here is the super hero part. Through a process called photosynthesis, leaves pull in carbon dioxide and water and use the energy of the sun to convert this into chemical compounds such as sugars that feed the tree. But as a by-product of that chemical reaction oxygen is produced and released by the tree. It is proposed that one large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.
Trees also store carbon dioxide in their fibers helping to clean the air and reduce the negative effects that this CO2 could have had on our environment. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, in one year a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange.
So next time you take a deep breath of air give credit to a tree or hug a tree in thanks for what it gives us – the very air we breathe.
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I found a misspelling in the first paragraph of "how it works" it says Truck instead of Trunk. Not really a big deal...
@A student reader - thank you for spotting that. We've corrected that word.
Wow! Great information!
Guess we better keep burning fossil fuels to feed the trees.
I would like a copy of this. I am so fed up with these big city people trying to tell the world what we need to be doing to “save the planet,” and yet the same people can’t mow down enough trees for houses, condominiums, and apartments!!!
Thank you so much for the information!
Hey, Is there any information about how much oxygen a tree consume during the night? As a kid I have bren told that plants are also breathing and I would like to learn the consumption rate of oxygen of one tree. Thank you.
"It is proposed that one large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people." My question is in how long? In a tree's lifetime? A day? A what?
I am concerned and others, about the destruction of existing natural forests.....
I like this article. I'm interested in plants and photosynthesis.
Hi Rishi!!! I like it to and hope that we can help trees!
This is why we need to plant more trees ?!
The oxygen that the trees produce is a valuable resource for humans all over the world.
I think that planting trees is very important. One tree can definitely make a difference and that's helping Earth.
Hello I’m Zayd Amin today I learned how trees give us oxygen this was a great artical I also think people are causing problems for the trees by cutting them down and not only animals won’t have a place to live it’s that we won’t have air to breath.
I keep seeing, "48lbs of carbon absorbed every year". What is the poundage of oxygen released by a tree in 1year?
We need our trees as they need us. I'm so concerned of how COVID19 virus along with wearing mask has affected the cycle of carbon dioxide for the trees to release enough oxygen for us.
Our natural balance is being destroyed and also with Global warming.
Very timely post. I was talking to my grandson about oxygen and trees and was missing the full picture. This article will help me respond to him. Thank you
i was wondering if there was a way to simulate the photosynthesis process of a tree and apply that process to CO2-laden areas, thereby not only sequestering the CO2, but producing O2 for us as well
For every tree cut down a new tree must be planted in the area. What this world needs to control climate change is more trees!
How do trees draw in carbon dioxide? What force is pulling that gas into the cells of the leaves?
since I have a lot of trees on my property I am glad to have read this article. i know that we exhale carbon dioxide but I was unaware that the trees absorbed so much. and released the amount of oxygen that it does.
So, the power of a single tree can basically give oxygen for 4 people and when the people breathe oxygen and exhale the carbon dioxide out, then the process becomes looped just because of the cause of a tree that consumes the carbon dioxide and gives the oxygen to the people. So that means trillions of people breathe clearly today just because of trees. Thank the trees, not me nor others! (and also give yourself a pat in the back for making this process loop)
We need more trees so everyone can breathe healthy so just don't cut way too much trees so we can save the world from breathing artificial air!
This is on-topic so I wanted to say that if we get more maple trees, there would be enough honey to cure coughing or something like that. So, there would be lots of honey and breathing too. I am not talking about the "Current World Event" at this time.
With a 4 to 1 ratio, can one determine how much tree area would be needed to reduce CO2 so that oxygen and CO2 are re-balanced and ergo reducing the risk of any future atmospheric/climate change? This may suggest that each country must maintain X-amount of treed area, thereby allowing Y-amount of CO2 producing industry ?
A large tree will absorb much more carbon than 48 pounds per year. The process is simple chemistry. Carbon is the building block of life as we know it. Any green living plant absorbs carbon dioxide, extracts the carbon and releases the oxygen. The process is called photosynthesis, and is powered by sunlight. The carbon is combined with water and other trace chemicals to form complex organic substances such as starch, wood, etc. If you take a piece of wood and heat it in a reducing environment (no oxygen) water will be driven off and charcoal will remain. Charcoal is a fairly pure form of oxygen. The only way a plant can get carbon is from the air through photosynthesis. Thus life depends on Carbon Dioxide in the air.
Thanks to my trees for my oxygen
Would the size of the leaves of the tree matter to the amount of carbon dioxide it absorbs? How many years can a mature tree store carbon dioxide? If a tree is cut down does it release the carbon it has stored up?
Thank you for your article The Power of One Tree.
Working to bring developers, builders and homeowners cutting edge green technology would really help in our advocacy to green living. Informative article. Lets go green!
i was talking with by bro on how this works but i did not now how thanks for the info.
I love trees, they keep me, my family and the society and the animals alive.
In one year, how much carbon dioxide does a mature tree release during the night?
Thank you great post! I’m a wildlife advocate and I planted several gardens for all pollinators . Sometimes I have to pull a maple tree seedling from my gardens and I feel so bad and try to relocate it most times I love learning about all the new species I find in my yard.. as one person said - big city folks stop building 100’s of unnecessary stores we do not need and houses all over spilling into forests and pine lands. Love and respect nature ! If you’ve ever turned over an old log carefully, you’ll see an entire little world going on underneath. It’s fascinating the little tiny world with wood lice,
centipedes, worms, water bugs and so on.
Thanks for sharing. Now I see where the old saying "tree hugger" was derived from. I'm definitely hugging a tree today.
I care deeply about the trees in my community. The trees in the City of New York live side by side with tremendous amounts of automobile emissions, air pollution as well as other toxic fumes. Photosynthesis should be a good fact that City dwellers are educated about. Thank you.
Our trees provide our country life support. Keep our city free of litter, please.
How much carbon fuel globally does the sun produce each year?