Words by Smiley Team
One man is offsetting a lifetime’s worth of carbon emissions by planting giant sequoia trees in the UK.
Henry Emson, founder of One Life, One Tree, or The Sequoia Project, planted his first sequoia tree when he became increasingly worried about the environment, and his own carbon footprint. After his children were born, he planted them each a tree, then did so for other members of his family too. Now, just a few years later, he has planted hundreds of sequoia trees across the country.
Over our lifetime, the average human emits around 520 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is about the same amount of carbon that a giant sequoia tree is able to absorb. At UK growth rates, it takes around 250 years for a sequoia to absorb that amount of carbon - something we have learned thanks to the Victorians, who brought giant sequoias over to the UK to study them in the 1850s.
Sequoiadendron giganteum grows natively only in the United States, on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains - over 970 metres in elevation. These trees are huge and can grow to an average height of 50–85 metres with a girth of 6-8 metres. However, some trees have reached record heights of 94.8 metres tall.
“We must plant trees that are the most efficient at carbon capture per acre,” begins the explanation given on the One Life, One Tree website. “The species most capable of carbon capture per acre is the Giant Sequoia, due to its massive volume accumulated over time. Even over a 100-year period, a Sequoia grove can capture in the region of 10x more CO2 vs. [UK] native tree woodland.”
Giant sequoia trees, much like the bison we wrote about previously, were native to the UK pre-Ice Age. Because of this, they grow well in many areas of the UK and aren’t considered an invasive species.
To grow these amazing trees and help fight climate change, the team at One Tree, One Life is buying land in the UK that reflects the sequoia’s native homeland. This project is called The Great Reserve and aims to create sequoia groves across the UK that will act as carbon sinks.
Each sequoia is planted on a 100m2 piece of land, along with three species of tree that are native to the UK. This is to promote biodiversity and ensure that species which call the UK their home and feed on native species, still have the resources they need to thrive, while the sequoia absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it.
PLANT: Visit the One Life, One Tree website and purchase a sequoia tree for planting, to help offset your carbon footprint.
DONATE: Become a carbon capture subscriber with One Life, One Tree and offset your carbon footprint by the month or year.