There is much discussion in Washington state these days about carbon and climate change.

In 2014 Governor Jay Inslee proposed a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions; last year he introduced a carbon tax proposal and this year he’s brought a similar plan forward.

These efforts are aimed at the problem of atmospheric carbon emissions, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, which are accelerating climate change.

Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz also is concerned about climate change. She is promoting a smart carbon policy for Washington that adheres to four key resilience principles:

  1. Tackle the root cause — carbon pollution — and invest in reduction efforts
  2. Strengthen the health and resilience of our lands, waters, and communities
  3. Accelerate carbon sequestration
  4. Invest in and incentivize solutions with multiple benefits

Each of these principles is further broken down into a series of recommended strategies to address carbon pollution in Washington state. One such strategy is to:

Invest in tree planning, planting, and management in cities and towns to improve air quality, increase carbon storage, improve water quality during high-rain stormwater events, improve quality of life, and decrease long-term healthcare costs.

You read that right. The trees in our cities and towns are part of the solution.

Fossil fuels are burned by people. People, by and large, live in cities and towns. Sustaining community trees is a convenient and cost-effective strategy that targets the problem at its source.

This strategy echos the concept behind City Forest Credits, a Seattle-based non-profit which issues “Carbon+” credits for urban trees. The ‘+’ is for trees’ co-benefits, which include- energy conservation, air pollution reduction and stormwater mitigation.

Urban forestry by itself is not a silver bullet to solve climate change. However, when considering the suite of actions we can take to address the problem, urban forestry is definitely “low-hanging fruit”.

You can help keep the momentum going by supporting urban forestry in your community. We’re here to help. Please contact DNR’s urban forestry program manager Linden Lampman at linden.lampman@dnr.wa.gov or urban forestry specialist Ben Thompson at ben.thompson@dnr.wa.gov with your questions, suggestions, and technical assistance pertaining this topic.

Coverage of Commissioner Franz advocating for a carbon policy can be viewed here: