Let’s learn about trees

These long-lived woody plants have benefits for people, animals — and the entire planet

a photo of a very large and leafy beech tree against a sunny sky with wispy white clouds

There are some 3 trillion trees on Earth, according to scientists’ estimates.

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Trees have been around for some 370 million years. These long-lived woody plants can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Scientists have identified more than 60,000 tree species. And they’ve estimated that there are 3.04 trillion individual trees growing across the globe.

Trees provide homes for animals and shade for people on hot days. One of their big benefits is that they soak up and store the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Some people have suggested that planting trees could help to negate the impact of global warming. Researchers last year, though, warned that the easy and simple idea wasn’t so easy and simple after all. It would be difficult to plant enough trees. However, planting trees could help — if done thoughtfully, and in the right places.

Want to know more? We’ve got some stories to get you started:

As trees come down, some hidden homes are disappearing: A wildlife housing shortage is developing around the world among animals that depend on tree hollows (9/7/2017) Readability: 6.5

City living makes trees grow fast but die young: Urban trees may not remove as much carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, as rural trees (6/18/2019) Readability: 6.8

Made in the shade: Agroforestry — combining woody plants with agriculture — yields many benefits (9/18/2015) Readability: 7.7

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5 things to know about the climate-saving benefits of tree planting

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Practice your observation skills and identify trees in your neighborhood using this activity from the National Wildlife Federation. If you don’t have a handy tree ID guide, check out this online guide from the Arbor Day Foundation.

And if you can’t go outside to identify trees, learn about trees around the world, take the Leaf ID quiz and read more about trees with this suite of activities from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Sarah Zielinski is the Editor, Print at Science News Explores. She has degrees in biology and journalism and likes to write about ecology, plants and animals. She has three cats: Oscar, Saffir and Alani.

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