What are the best trees to plant for carbon offsetting?

15 Nov 2019

When thinking of planting the best trees for the environment, think in terms of the ones that live the longest and get the biggest. The bigger the tree the greater the carbon store it locks away to mitigate the effects of climate change. To allow these trees to fulfil their potential plant them 20 metres apart from each other in a free draining field that provides plenty of soil volume for them to exploit their full potential. We would also recommend putting a covenant on the land to prevent it from future development for at least 300 years. There is no point in making a big statement for the environment unless the fruits of your labours are protected long after you are gone.

Importantly, select a wide range of genus so if some calamity in terms of pest or disease besets one, the rest of your planting won’t be effected. The following trees can form the backbone of your carbon offset scheme. Shorted lived trees, such as Betula or Prunus can be planted in between them if you want a more instant day one look but fix your plan on them not being there after 50-100 years by which time the long lived heavyweights of the UK treescape can take over.

Acer pseudoplatanus, Sycamore 200-300 years

Carpinus betulus, Hornbeam 200-300 years

Fagus sylvatica, Beech, 300-400 years

Gingko biloba, Maidenhair Tree 500-1000 years

Juglans nigra, Black Walnut, 200-300 years

Liriodendron tulipifera, Tulip Tree, 200-300 years

Metasequoia glyptostroboides , Dawn Redwood, 200-250 years

Pinus nigra Austriaca, Corsican Pine, 300-500 years

Quercus ilex, Holm Oak 500-1000 years

Quercus robur, Oak, 300-500 years

Sequoiadendron giganteum, Redwood, 1000-2000 years

Taxus baccata, Yew, 500-600 years

Tilia cordata, Small Leaved Lime, 500-750 years

Tilia platyphyllos, Broad Leaved Lime, 500-750 years

Only 6 from our list are classified as UK natives and it is our opinion that ornamental trees play a massive part to play in future planting to create a mix diverse enough to cope with the rigours of climate change. There will become a time when future governments incentivise people for doing this type of planting. For now, know that it is the right thing to do if you have any spare land lying idle. A tree will really start to positively impact on carbon offsetting from about 30 years into its growing cycle, so this work is not for your benefit but for the generations that come after. What a legacy it would be if this thinking was adopted throughout the span of the UK.

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