We’ve all heard the news – the planet is in strife. We’re choking on carbon emissions, chopping down forests and doing untold damage to our fragile ecosystems. The planet needs help… but what can we do?

It can all seem a bit detached, and for many it all seems a bit too hard. I mean what actions can we undertake, in our own backyards, that will actually make a difference?

Well, a great place to start would be to plant a tree! I know, not all of us have the space. But fear not, we’ll get to that.

Trees, as we all know, have the ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere, whether they are located in bushland, park land, or on your land. The use of trees to reduce atmospheric carbon has been well studied and documented, and more recently has been seen as one of the ways we can reduce our collective environmental footprint.

Trees planted in urban spaces have the ability to absorb significant greenhouse gases over their natural lifespan. This is enhanced by the sustainable use of leaves and other plant debris. These can be left to decompose naturally beneath the tree, collected in organic green waste processes or composted on private land.

A well-planned residential landscape, incorporating trees, can reduce the demand for artificial heating and cooling in a building. This reduces the requirement for energy derived from fossil fuels. In fact shading your windows with trees on the eastern, northern and western aspects of your home can reduce household heating and cooling costs by up to 20%. This is significant, as up to 25% of a household’s yearly energy consumption is attributed to artificial “climate control”.

By utilising gardens and landscapes to provide external shading, radiant heat from the sun will not enter your home. This allows it, and the planet, to remain significantly more comfortable!

Why not consider planting a deciduous tree or two in your landscape, and, while you’re at it, remember there are some amazing deciduous fruit trees! Reducing energy costs, while growing healthy, fresh produce… now that’s sustainable!!!

For those suffering from lack of space there are numerous “offset businesses” now offering to plant trees on your behalf to absorb your carbon. But this in itself has created a great deal of debate. In short, go with an offset tree-planting scheme that is credible; insures the tree will be part of a functioning ecosystem; allows it to reach maturity; protects it from drought and exposure to bushfire, and guarantees it will regenerate naturally or be replaced at the end of its lifecycle.

Plant a tree or two. Think locally native, productive, deciduous or functional. Be sure to check local invasive tree listings, and plant an investment in your future, your children’s future, and the future of our planet!