India is one of the most rapidly urbanizing countries in the world.
In the past few decades, the country’s urban population has more than doubled, and it is expected to continue growing at a rapid pace in the coming years. This rapid urbanization has put a strain on India’s environment, and one of the most pressing environmental challenges facing the country is climate change.
Climate change is a global problem, but it is having a particularly severe impact on India.
The country is already experiencing the effects of climate change, such as more frequent and intense heat waves, droughts, floods, and cyclones. These extreme weather events are causing widespread damage to property and infrastructure, and they are also harming human health.
One way to mitigate the effects of climate change is to increase carbon sequestration or carbon capture. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Trees are one of the most effective ways to sequester carbon, and they can also provide multiple other benefits to urban areas, such as improving air quality, reducing noise pollution, and providing shade.
What are Urban Forests? Their Importance and Benefits
Urban forestation refers to the deliberate planting and preservation of trees and vegetation within urban areas. It involves creating and maintaining green spaces, such as parks, gardens, and street trees, to enhance the natural environment in urban settings.
The importance of urban forestation lies in its numerous benefits for both the environment and the well-being of urban residents. Here are some key points:
Air Quality Improvement
Urban forests act as natural air filters by absorbing pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter while releasing oxygen. This helps to mitigate air pollution, improving the overall air quality in cities.
Trees in urban areas play a crucial role in mitigating the urban heat island effect, where cities experience significantly higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas. By providing shade and evaporative cooling, urban forests help to regulate temperatures, reducing energy consumption and enhancing the comfort of urban dwellers.
Carbon Capture and Storage
Urban trees are effective carbon sinks, as they absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and store carbon in their biomass. Increasing urban forestation can help mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Urban forests provide habitats for various wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals. By creating green corridors and interconnected habitats, urban forestation supports biodiversity, promoting the presence of diverse plant and animal species within urban ecosystems.
Trees and vegetation in urban areas help to absorb and block sound, reducing noise pollution from traffic, construction, and other urban activities. This contributes to creating more peaceful and livable environments for residents.
Urban forests play a crucial role in managing stormwater runoff. Tree canopies intercept rainfall, reducing the volume and intensity of runoff, while their root systems absorb and store water. This helps to prevent flooding, erosion, and water pollution, improving overall water quality.
Psychological and Health Benefits
Access to green spaces and urban forests has been linked to numerous psychological and health benefits. Spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve mental well-being, enhance cognitive function, and encourage physical activity, leading to improved overall quality of life for urban residents.
What is Carbon Capture? Its Importance and Benefits
Carbon capture refers to the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated from industrial processes, power plants, and other sources before they are released into the atmosphere. The captured CO2 is then either stored underground or utilized in various ways to prevent it from contributing to climate change.
The importance of carbon capture lies in its potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. Here are some key points highlighting its importance and benefits.
Climate Change Mitigation
Carbon capture plays a vital role in mitigating climate change by preventing CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. CO2 is a major greenhouse gas that contributes to the warming of the planet. By capturing and storing or utilizing CO2 emissions, carbon capture technologies help to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases, mitigating global warming and its associated impacts.
Transition to Low-Carbon Economy
Carbon capture can facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy by enabling industries, such as power plants and manufacturing facilities, to continue operating while reducing their carbon footprint. It provides an intermediate solution as renewable energy sources and other sustainable technologies are developed and scaled up.
Preservation of Fossil Fuel Use
Carbon capture allows for the continued use of fossil fuels, particularly in industries where alternatives are limited or costly. By capturing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-based processes, such as power generation and industrial manufacturing, carbon capture helps to reduce the environmental impact associated with these activities.
Cleaner Air Quality
Carbon capture technologies contribute to improved air quality by reducing the release of harmful pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are often emitted along with CO2 from industrial sources. This leads to better respiratory health outcomes for communities located near these emission sources.
Captured CO2 can be utilized in various ways, such as in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques, where CO2 is injected into oil wells to enhance oil extraction. Additionally, CO2 can be used in the production of fuels, chemicals, and building materials, offering opportunities for the development of a circular carbon economy.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects can be utilized for carbon offsetting, allowing companies and individuals to invest in such projects to compensate for their emissions. This enables them to achieve carbon neutrality or reduce their net carbon footprint.
Bridge to Negative Emissions Technologies
Carbon capture technologies can serve as a bridge to more advanced negative emissions technologies. These technologies aim to remove CO2 from the atmosphere on a larger scale, helping to actively reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
Urban Forestation and Carbon Capture in India
All living forms include carbon, which trees use as a building material to create their trunks, roots, stems, branches, and leaves. Through photosynthesis, which removes carbon dioxide from the air, separates the carbon atoms from the oxygen atoms, and releases oxygen back into the atmosphere, trees remove (sequester) carbon from the atmosphere.
Because of this, trees store a significant quantity of carbon in their structures, and yearly growth increases the amount of carbon stored there. Urban trees help cities’ ecological health by storing carbon and lowering pollution from vehicles.
Urban planting can reduce carbon emissions by up to 18 kg CO2 annually per tree, which is equivalent to the benefit offered by three to five forest trees of comparable size and health. Both immediately by shadowing the ground surface and indirectly through transpiration, tree canopies have a cooling influence on the microclimate.
Roadside trees play a crucial role in lowering pollution because of their proximity to the source of car emissions. Urban residents must understand the value of urban trees as an essential element of the urban landscape.
Among the Indian species of trees, the Teak tree is the most effective carbon sequester. It has the highest capacity for carbon sequestration or carbon capture. Gujarat Ecological Education Research (GEER) found in their study to prepare a hierarchy of local trees in India that can help reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In its lifetime, a Teak Tree with a girth of 10-30 cm can absorb 3.70 lakh tonnes of Carbon dioxide from the surrounding.
Nelda’s Tree Plantation Project in Pune Focuses on Creating an Urban Forest for Carbon Capture
Nelda Foundation has been working on Hanuman Tekdi, Pune since 2016. We’ve adopted the hill to try to convert it into an urban forest to benefit the environment and the society. Our goal is to use this urban forest as a way to capture and store carbon from the atmosphere within city limits.
You can learn more about Nelda’s project and its impact on our website and if you’re interested in joining our cause, you’re welcome to either donate online or volunteer in person. Let’s do all we can for our Mother Nature!
Written by Saili Sabnis from Nelda. Images have the copyrights of the respective sources.