Carbon Dioxide Sequestration of Trees in City of Kitchener Parks

by: Tara Doherty, Melanie Murphy, Riyaz Lalani

Course: ERS 285, 1997
Supervisor: Paul Kay


A potential enhancement of the Earth's greenhouse effect is a critical environmental problem. Climatic changes could result in catastrophic effects on human economic systems and natural ecosystems. CO2 is the most significant contributor of the radiatively active gases to the human influence on the greenhouse effect (Freedman and Keith, 1995, p.1). Because CO2 emissions are directly linked to many economically prosperous activities, it is difficult for society to quickly accomplish large reductions in its production.

One possible strategy to partially offset emissions of CO2 is to engage in tree planting initiatives. As trees grow, they remove CO2 from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. The CO2 is fixed as organic carbon accumulating in the form of biomass. Research demonstrates that substantial carbon credits can be attained by planting large quantities of trees in urban environments (McPherson, 1992, Ip, 1996).

Our own findings suggests that between 15.7 million kg and 31.2 million kg of CO2 is removed by trees within the City of Kitchener's parks each year. This range represents a minimum of 20% or a maximum of 40% of the City's estimated total CO2 production.

Our results reflect the CO2 that is sequestered by trees only within the City's parks. Other carbon sinks are not included in this figure, nor are other forested areas. We could suggest, therefore, that if other sinks are considered, or even if the capacity of the remainder of the City of Kitchener's wooded areas to assimilate CO2 are addressed, the amount of CO2 sequestered will increase substantially. It is therefore evident that tree planting initiatives are an effective method of offsetting CO2 production from human sources.

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Last updated: August 27, 1997 plc