# Let s calculate the carbon

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1 UNIT 2 / ACTIvITy 4 Let s calculate the carbon in a tree LEarning outcomes Learners will have/be able to: Explain/draw in simple terms the carbon cycle, using key terms explaining the processes Explain why trees are part of the solution to the harmful effects of climate change Show how to measure the circumference of a tree trunk. Ask the children to do this three times and then take an average. Explain why more than one measurement was taken use the numbers and tables to work out further information, making use of multiplication and division, as well as explaining 50% as a fraction Contribute to a small group task, and draw conclusions about group dynamics. Forestry scientists agree that trees are very important in providing a solution to the harmful effects of climate change. Trees are environmentally friendly, efficient, reliable and cheap. They offer an easy way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and they store carbon away for long periods. using this simple conversion chart can help develop various numeracy and measuring skills. outdoor space With lots of trees to measure the larger the better, at least 1 tree per group 30 metre tape measure or pieces of string and a metre stick/metre wheel per group Calculator and laminated copy of chart 2.4A Carbon Calculator 1 of each per group 2.4B How trees photosynthesize 1kg packet of sugar Clipboard, paper & pencil 1 per group Flipchart sheets and marker pens 1 2 per group you WiLL need SourCES & FurTHEr inspiration Forestry Commission Scotland Forests and climate change: a convenient truth (15 minute film) preparatory activity Ask everyone if they are familiar with the idea of recycling what kinds of things do they recycle at home/school. Why do we do this? Recycling is in fact it is a fundamental process of life. We are going to investigate the carbon cycle and find out how it works, and what part people play. Set up an area of wall in the classroom with a banner titled the building materials of life must be used over and over again and carbon cycle. Give each group the task of doing an internet search to find a simple diagram of the carbon cycle. Google carbon cycle diagram. Collect the results which is the clearest diagram for them why? If they are too difficult to understand can we design our own? End result a large diagram of the carbon cycle on the wall. Now we are going to see how much carbon trees can store! preparatory activity 52

3 UNIT 2 / ACTIvITy 4 2.4A Carbon calculator SupporT MaTEriaL Instructions for measuring the tree and carbon stored 1 Measure the circumference of the tree at the standard chest height (1.3m) with a tape measure. Record the result in centimetres. Repeat at least 3 times, at the same height, and calculate the average measure. 2 When you ve got your average circumference, look at the table to convert this to dry weight. use the nearest value in the table to your value. 3 Because half the dry weight of the tree is carbon, you then need to divide your answer by 2. This tells you how much carbon is stored in the tree. 4 You can also calculate how much carbon dioxide was absorbed to create this carbon store, by multiplying your figure for carbon by m Circumference (cm) Tree dry weight (kg) , , , , , , , , ,674 These values, provided by Forest Research, are for an individual hardwood tree in Westonbirt Arboretum. They can be used as an example. Trees will grow at different rates across the uk depending on, for example, the species, soil, drainage, slope aspect and climate conditions. 54

4 2.4B How trees photosynthesize UNIT 2 / ACTIvITy 4 SupporT MaTEriaL photosynthesis photo = light synthesis = combining elements Plants (including trees) make their own food through photosynthesis. This takes place in the leaves. Leaves capture energy from the sun and use it to combine carbon dioxide from the air and water from the soil to make sugars and oxygen. This oxygen is released into the atmosphere and is what makes the Earth habitable for humans and other animals. It is thanks to photosynthesis that we are able to breathe. The carbon dioxide remains stored in the tree or plant as carbon (in the form of sugars) throughout the lifetime of the tree. It has effectively been removed from the atmosphere. 55

5 UNIT 2 / ACTIvITy 4 additional information The tree solution additional information Trees are useful to us and to the planet as a carbon store, but they are also good for the environment in other ways. They help us to adapt to changes in the climate. Flood management system Trees help to slow down rainwater and prevent flooding in towns and cities. They also help to slow down floodwaters when they are planted on a floodplain as floodplain woodland. Trees also take up water through their roots, reducing runoff into rivers and streams. Self anchoring dynamic foundations Trees have their own root systems which they use to anchor themselves in place. The roots are another part of the tree where carbon is stored. The roots also help to stabilise soil, protecting it from erosion, as well as helping to slow down rainwater through the soil. rainwater decelerator This means that trees help to slow down rainwater the water gets caught in their branches and leaves rather than hitting soil or tarmac immediately this reduces flooding. Have you ever walked through a woodland on a wet day? You are much less likely to get soaked through than if you were standing out in the open. air freshening unit During photosynthesis trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This means that we are able to breathe. They can also help to remove pollutants from the air in towns and cities. Carbon store Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. This is stored in their leaves, branches, trunks and roots as carbon, making them a carbon store. Wind deflector and buffering unit As well as helping to slow down floodwater, trees also slow down wind and help to protect us, providing shelter. 56

6 TEaCHEr resource FoRESTS FoR THE FuTuRE Wildlife habitat They also offer shelter for animals, helping animals move around green areas in cities to places where the climate might be more suitable. Soil stabilisation Tree roots help to stabilise soil, meaning that it is not washed away by rainwater. This can help to prevent rivers becoming silted up with lots of soil another way in which trees help to prevent flooding. additional information 2 unit Timber manufacturing plant Food production and self regeneration system Trees can be used to produce wood or timber to make things with, like houses or furniture. Again, as long as the woodlands which the timber comes from are managed sustainably, and more trees are planted to replace those cut down, this can be a climate friendly alternative to using materials like concrete or steel. The wooden building or piece of furniture will go on storing carbon throughout its lifetime, and new trees that grow in place of those cut down will absorb yet more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere especially deciduous trees in the spring growth spurt. Wooden products also take much less energy to produce than things made of concrete or steel. Different types of tree provide different types of food and other useful products that we can eat or use for example, various types of fruit and nut come from trees, chewing gum, cork, latex and rubber used in balloons and shoes all come from trees. Some types of woodland management such as coppicing, take advantage of the ability of trees to regenerate. When hazel is coppiced for example, shoots are cut close to the ground and used to make things with. These shoots quickly regenerate, and produce more wood which can be cut in a continual cycle. At Westonbirt Arboretum the oldest tree is in fact a 2000-year-old coppiced lime. Fuel production units Trees can be used to produce wood fuel. As long as the woodlands that the trees come from are managed sustainably, and more trees are planted to replace those cut down, using more of this type of fuel can be good for our climate. Any carbon dioxide that is released through burning the wood, is absorbed by the new trees. Cooling zone Trees release water into the atmosphere through transpiration. The water is evaporated from the leaves into the air, helping to cool the air down. Trees planted in towns and cities can help to cool down the air, which is often warmer than the surrounding countryside. Trees also provide shade for people, plants and animals. 57

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