Trees: Our Mental, Physical, Climate Change Antidote


Dr. Danielle Ignace standing beside a sugar maple tree in the backyard of her home in Williamsburg, MA. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

There are many sugar maples along the banks of the Mill River in western Massachusetts. But this one is special, at least to Danielle Ignace. Its wide, green canopy keeps Ignace cool as she works or entertains friends, even on this hot summer day in Williamsburg. Its tens of thousands of leaves, rustling in a breeze, produce air that is moist and fresh. Its shade, she says, calms her nerves.

And this sugar maple is a carbon sucking, storage machine. Ignace, an assistant professor of forestry at the University of British Columbia and a Harvard Forest research associate, has just made some calculations using an online tool.

To date, it shows Ignace’s tree has stored 22,049 pounds of carbon dioxide or CO2, one of the main greenhouse gases that is warming our planet. That’s the amount of carbon released by 1,100 gallons of gas burned in an average car.

“That’s quite a feat for a single tree,” says Ignace, grinning.

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