Trees and plants capture carbon from the atmosphere and produce oxygen. This process cleans our air, improves air quality and absorbs carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change.
Trees absorb carbon at different rates depending on their life stage. Younger trees capture more carbon than older trees, meaning that young, developing forests are especially efficient at removing carbon from the atmosphere.
In most cases, once carbon dioxide has been absorbed by a tree, it stays locked inside the wood. Wood products made from trees still hold the carbon that was absorbed over the trees’ lifetime – lumber is 50% carbon by weight. Wood’s carbon storage capacity is why wood is such an effective opportunity for addressing climate change. The amount of carbon stored by an average wood framed house is equivalent to the emissions from running a car for five years. On top of that, forest companies plant two new trees for every tree that’s harvested to make these wood products – the two new trees will absorb even more carbon, and younger trees absorb it at a faster rate.
There is an exception where the carbon stored by trees can be released, though – this happens if the tree burns or is killed by insects like the mountain pine beetle. This is one of the reasons why preventing, controlling and containing fires and infestations is so important.