Index - The Science - Why not just plant trees to combat climate change?

Index – The Science – Why not just plant trees to combat climate change?

There are an estimated 3 trillion trees on Earth. Governments and individuals alike are enthusiastically engaged in tree-planting projects that can help with current emissions and extract carbon that remains in the atmosphere for decades or more. Launched in January 2020, the Trillion Tree Initiative is a global movement to plant, restore and preserve trees. Hungarian little brother A 10 million trees organisation.

What are the benefits of trees?

Tree planting projects include not only burying new seedlings, but also reviving forests in disrepair, mixed planting of trees and pastures. Trees not only store carbon, but also provide clean air, prevent soil erosion, and create shade and shelter.

Forests produce 7.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually swallow, which represents about one-fifth of the volume of emissions. However, human activity can turn forests into carbon sources: through deforestation, wildfires and the burning of wood products, forests release an estimated 8.1 billion tons of gas into the atmosphere.

Deforestation and deforestation also increase carbon emissions: forests in Southeast Asia, for example, emit more carbon than they absorb due to deforestation and wildfires.

The question also arises about how the forests themselves affect the climate. For example, planting trees in snow-covered areas can increase the absorption of solar radiation, which can lead to global warming.

wood cultivation

It is good that there is a growing global desire to plant trees, but there are those who need to be careful antinick. In their opinion, there are a number of scientific, political, social and economic aspects that must be taken into account when launching such massive wood projects. Of concern is the fact that there is too much focus on the number of seedlings planted and too little time spent maintaining trees long-term or working with local communities. Moreover, they do not stress enough that different types of forests sequester very different amounts of carbon.

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It is pointless to have good intentions if the project starters are not careful enough. In Chile, since 1974, subsidies have been used to encourage landowners to plant trees. However, land owners can also use these subsidies to replace areas of original forest with profitable plantations. As a result, the new farms did not reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but hastened the loss of biodiversity.

natural afforestation

Environmentalists advocate afforestation that is naturally renewable.

We would like to pay more attention to this. It is also much cheaper to let nature do the work. Self-renewing forests can be green corridors between plantations, which may also help preserve biodiversity.

– Says Robin Shaddon Forest ecologist.

Great Wall of China

China launched a campaign in 1978 to roll back the Gobi Desert, which had become the fastest growing desert on Earth due to deforestation and overgrazing.

The forestry programme, nicknamed the Great Green Wall, aims to plant a 4,500 km strip of wood in the north of the country. The campaign included seeds scattered from millions of planes and millions of hand-planted seedlings.

However, a 2011 analysis revealed that 85 percent of farms failed because selected non-native species could not survive in a dry environment. So we also need to be aware of the risks of such large projects, that “think global, act local” may be the best way for environmentalists and researchers trying to balance many different needs and act to limit climate change.

(Cover Photo: Jean-Christophe Verheijen/AFP)

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