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Our urban trees in the James River Park System and City of Richmond perform valuable services for us. They anchor the soil on hills and along river and stream edges, which reduces runoff into the river. They provide habitat and food for animals, and moderate the temperatures and rainfall with their canopies.
But our trees also act as a lung by ‘breathing in’ carbon dioxide molecules from the atmosphere and ‘exhaling’ oxygen molecules back out. The carbon from this process is used to build physical structures -- trunks, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits. This is known as carbon sequestration and can be measured to see how much carbon is in each tree and how much is added on each year. This carbon offsets the carbon emissions that we create, individually or collectively, when we drive cars, mow the lawn and use fossil fuels in other activities.
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