Seattle skyline

Trees absorb and store carbon, so deforestation makes climate change worse. And the problem is not limited to remote wilderness areas. U.S. cities are also losing a lot of trees from development, storms, pests, and more.

“We’re seeing that there’s been about 36 million trees that are lost each year in urban and community areas in the United States,” says Liz Johnston of City Forest Credits.

The nonprofit funds urban tree planting and preservation projects by selling what are called carbon credits.

The idea is that companies or others wanting to offset their own carbon emissions buy credits. The money raised then supports projects that reduce carbon pollution in the atmosphere.

The model has long been used to fund tropical reforestation.

“We created this approach that allows companies to invest locally and provide this much needed funding for creating and preserving our city forests,” Johnston says.

The nonprofit has already funded tree planting efforts in Austin, Texas, and near Seattle, Washington.

Johnston says trees in urban areas can help provide cooling, improve air quality, and absorb stormwater, so the local benefits go beyond reducing global warming.

Reporting credit: Karen Lewis/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Jan Ellen Spiegel is a long-time Connecticut-based journalist whose career has included radio, television, print, and digital reporting. She has won awards for her reporting on energy, environment, climate...