Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Plant sweeper trees!

In Bologna, Italy, factories are planting special trees to absorb their CO2 emissions. You can do it yourself in your garden or on your rooftop: follow the experts’ advice. 

by Ilaria Lonigro

Photo by fotographic1980, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There's nothing new about planting trees to fight CO2 emissions. But there's something brand new about planting... smart trees! This is just one of the latest solutions spreading out in Europe. Plant trees, don't make CO2: if the pacifist motto was turned to green, it would sound more or less like this. 

This is also the belief of some enlightened factories in Bologna, Italy. They decided to reduce their negative footprint by planting very particular trees in the city. The project is called Gaia (Green Areas Inner-city Agreement) and it was launched by the municipality together with Cittalia, Unindustria Bologna, Impronta Etica and Ibimet, the Biometeorology Institute of the National Research Council (CNR), thanks to the financial support of the European Union funding program Life. The task is to plant 3000 trees in Bologna by March 2013,. Many other Italian cities, like Reggio Emilia, are enthusiast about the project, which could also be implemented abroad.

Photo by Tom Curtis, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It's been calculated that every tree can absorb up to 800 Kg CO2 in its lifetime, the same quantity produced by driving for 10.000 Km or by using 10 lamps in a year. In addition, trees can catch PM through their leaves. PM (it stands for particular matter) are fine particles suspended in the air. They’re mostly originated by human activities and they cause health problems such as hearth disease and lung cancer. 

Local factories will decide how much they want to reduce their emissions and, consequently, how many trees to plant. In particular, they'll choose the quality of trees.

Photo by Sura Nualpradid, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For this project, in fact, Ibimet created a special database listing the names of the most absorbent green species. Choosing carefully is very important: not only some trees are more absorbent than others, but it's better to avoid some species that may even produce ozone! 

The most exciting thing is that you don't have to be a polluting factory to start planting “Sweeper – trees”: you can do it yourself in your garden, on your terrace or on your rooftop. Just follow Rita Baraldi's advice. Rita is a CNR expert who contributed to the creation of the database. According to her, at the top of this special rank there are the ginkgo, the hackberry, the lime tree and the manna tree.

Photo by Arvind Balaraman, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The flowering apple tree and the hawthorn are excellent in catching PM, but they're not the most efficient in CO2 absorbing. 

On the other hand, the yoke – elm is a highly CO2 absorbent species, but, since its leaves are smooth and hairless, it's not very good in sweeping particulates.

It is better not to plant many yellow poplars false acacies and scholar's trees they can produce ozone gas, although they are excellent at sequestrating carbon.

You may also plant mapletrees, cherrytrees, ashtrees, myrobalans, common elms, black alders and elder trees.

If you plant sweeper trees, the sky will be bluer thanks to you too!

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