One has to wonder why it has taken so long to discover that tree-planting done on a massive global scale is likely to become one of the most effective tools in the carbon-fighting toolbox. A new study just out in Science journal claims that reforestation is “our most effective climate change solution to date.” This is mind-boggling. We are spending precious time and billions on technologies to suck carbon dioxide out the air we breathe. And trees can do this—for nothing. The following article by Stephen Leahy was first published in National Geographic. (Editor’s intro)
Planting Lots of Trees
An area the size of the United States could be restored as forests with the potential of erasing nearly 100 years of carbon emissions, according to the first ever study to determine how many trees the Earth could support.
Published [recently] in Science, “The global tree restoration potential” report found that there is enough suitable land to increase the world’s forest cover by one-third without affecting existing cities or agriculture. However, the amount of suitable land area diminishes as global temperatures rise. Even if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the area available for forest restoration could be reduced by a fifth by 2050 because it would be too warm for some tropical forests.
“Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today,” said Tom Crowther, a researcher at ETH Zürich, and senior author of the study.
Not a substitute for phasing out fossils
That does not alter the vital importance of protecting existing forests and phasing out fossil fuels since new forests would take decades to mature, Crowther said in a statement.
“If we act now, this could cut carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by up to 25 percent, to levels last seen almost a century ago,” he says.
It could take more than a hundred years to add enough mature forest to get sufficient levels of carbon reduction. Meanwhile 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels are being added to the atmosphere every year, said Glen Peters, research director at Norway’s Center for International Climate Research. MORE
Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees
Forests are one of the world’s most significant sources of food, new medicines and oxygen. Scientist and author Diana Beresford-Kroeger explores our profound biological and spiritual connection with trees, and meets people who are taking the lead to replant, restore and protect the last of the planet’s great ancient forests. WATCH THE VIDEO (52:07)