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Treasure Valley Trees Fighting Climate Change

Treasure Valley

Forests in Idaho's Treasure Valley are fighting climate change, according to a new report. 

In the report, The Nature Conservancy in Idaho and Ecosystem Sciences Foundation's Treasure Valley Forest Carbon Assessment looked at how much carbon dioxide trees in the region have been able to store. 

Since the last assessment in 2013, project partners have planted more than 8,200 trees. 

And over the next 25 years, those trees will store 15,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That's the equivalent of taking more than 5,400 cars off the road for a year. 

Bas Hargrove, a senior policy representative with The Nature Conservancy in Idaho, says that's thanks to Treasure Valley residents.

"This is a way that everyone can make a difference and we're hoping that we show with this report that what individuals do matter," he states. "And then, collectively, we can make a big impact."

The report notes that planting trees can't solve all of the problems of a changing climate, but it can reduce the Treasure Valley's carbon footprint. 

Hargrove says this may not be a silver bullet. But a recent study by The Nature Conservancy found if natural processes were taken advantage of worldwide to store carbon, about 37 percent of the Paris Agreement's climate goals could be reached by 2030.

There are about 2.4 million trees in the Treasure Valley and enough room to double that. The main hurdle will be cost. 

Lance Davisson, coordinator with the Treasure Valley Canopy Network, says one way to help pay for planting is with the help of the City Carbon Credits project.

"We can look for carbon buyers to help offset some of the costs of planting those trees and public companies, private companies can invest in those carbon credits to help pay for tree-planting projects," he explains.

Treasure Valley trees are already making an impact. According to the report, the trees store 1.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, valued at $29 million. 

The forests have other benefits, such as shade in the summer as Idaho heats up from the effects of a changing climate. 

This report was funded in part by the Idaho Department of Lands in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service.