Friday, September 4, 2015

How Many Trees Are There On Earth?

A new study out in the Journal Nature states that there are almost 3 trillion trees on the Earth, or over 400 trees for every person currently living.  As trees are vital to our atmosphere (using carbon dioxide and producing oxygen), serving as the counterpoint to animals (which of course use oxygen and produce carbon dioxide), the large number of trees is good news.  However, the study showed a far more concerning fact - we are cutting down 15 billion trees a year, and replacing only 5 billion, for a net loss of 10 billion trees per year.  Humans have cut down almost 50% of all trees since the advent of civilization, a staggering fact that may explain much of the drying out of whole regions (as trees can make it rain).

A farmer who harvested a field and didn't replant it would soon starve or become bankrupt.  So, why are we cutting down so many trees and not replanting them?  The reasons are many - some of the land is turned to grazing, some to agricultural production, some to urban development.

It is unlikely that we would ever turn good agricultural land back into forest -especially with increasing food prices and an increasing number of mouths to feed on the Earth.  It is just as unlikely that we will demolish houses to plant trees.  However, trees' role in pulling carbon from the air and storing it for long periods, potentially millenia (in very long lived trees like sequoias) in their trunks or centuries (in wood used for construction) cannot be overstated.  So, what are we to do?  Don't we lack the land needed to grow new trees?  As we cannot demolish our neighborhoods, where are trees to be planted?

A giant sequoia, growing over two years with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon in Indiana.  This tree was never watered after planting with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon, not even after the Waterboxx PlantCocoon was removed.
First, in most areas where new homes and businesses are built, very few trees remain.  These construction sites are called "greenfield" for a reason - they are generally fields when construction is underway.  If you have a new home with a barren yard - congratulations - you get to choose the trees you plant there.  This is especially important for very large yards, as your tree choice will affect your home value more than almost anything else.  Throughout this site, we have tree recommendations for longevity and other virtues.  If you live in a fairly wet, temperate area in the United States and want to plant trees that will counteract your lifetime carbon emissions, may we suggest planting giant sequoias on large plots of land.  This may sound outlandish, but this tree grows throughout much of the U.S. (and the world), and has been planted from Scotland to New Zealand.  Small sequoias can be bought here and are much more likely to survive if planted with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon, sold here.  

Second, large parts of the western half of the United States is considered desert or near desert - and indeed it is by rainfall totals.  Little is thought to be able to grow there, so it is not used as agricultural land.  However, trees that establish deep roots are able to survive where other plants cannot.  The problem is that it is very hard for trees to get established in desert areas, especially as most rain falls in a short period and then there is no precipitation for many months.

The Algodones Sand Sea desert in California (Photo from USGS, by Peter Kresan, public domain).  Surely no tree could ever grow here - except with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon.
This dry spell once meant the death of any planted trees - until, that is, the invention of the Waterboxx PlantCocoon.  This device, which is best described as a intelligent plant incubator or a self-refilling water battery for young trees, collects dew and rain water, stores it in a reservoir, and slowly releases it to the roots of a growing tree sapling.  This tree is allowed to grow for about a year, when its roots will reach much deeper capillary water.  Once this happens, but before a tree gets too large, the Waterboxx PlantCocoon is removed and reused for other trees.  In this way, large areas of desert land can be planted with trees, providing shade, wood, habitat for wildlife, and potentially foliage for grazing animals (depending on tree selection).  You can see how the Waterboxx PlantCocoon works in the video below:

So, has the Waterboxx PlantCocoon ever been shown to work in the desert.  In fact, it has.  88% of salt cedar trees planted with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon survived in the Sahara desert, as seen below.

Salt Cedar trees growing with the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon in the Sahara Desert in Morocco.  

 Ghaf trees (really more shrub or bush like plants) planted in the Kuwaiti desert with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon thrived after the Waterboxx PlantCocoon was removed.  These plants will completely change the character of the land over time, adding humus to the soil and allowing life to flourish.

Ghaf trees planted with the Groasis Waterboxx PlantCocoon in Kuwait - surviving after the Waterboxx PlantCocoon is removed.  
We hope you are as excited about planting trees in new locations as we were when we first saw the Waterboxx PlantCocoon.  We recommend you find trees that are growing somewhere in your area (you can find drought resistant broadleaf and evergreen tree suggestions on this site), and plant them with the Waterboxx PlantCocoon.  You can find out more about the Waterboxx PlantCocoon here.

We would love to hear your comments below.

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