Atmospheric Carbon Reduction by Urban Trees

Trees, because they sequester atmospheric carbon through their growth process and conserve energy in urban areas, have been suggested as one means to combat increasing levels of atmospheric carbon.  Analysis of the urban forest in Oakland, California (21% tree cover), reveals a tree carbon storage level of 11-0 metric tons/hectare.  Trees in the ares of the 1991 fire in Oakland stored approximately 14,500 metric tons of carbon, 10% of the total amount stored by Oakland’s urban forest.  National urban forest carbon storage in the United States (28% tree cover) is estimated at between 350 and 750 million metric tons.  Establishment of 10 million urban trees annually over the next 10 years is estimated to sequester and offset the production of 363 million metric tons of carbon over the next 50 years-less than 1% of the estimated carbon emissions in the United States over the same period.  Advantages and limitations of managing urban trees to reduce atmospheric carbon are discussed.


Suggested citation or credit:

Nowak, David. USDA Forest Service, Chicago, Illinois USA , “Atmospheric Carbon Reduction by Urban Trees .” Last modified 1993. carbon reduction by Urban Trees.pdf.

Source: Journal of Environmental Management (1993) 37, 207-217

Publication Date: June 1993

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