Lately many articles are being published touting the power of planting trees in the fight against climate change. I acknowledge of course the need for positive new surrounding the topic of climate change. If it’s always doom and gloom, how will we ever find the motivation, as a society, to actually do something about it? However, there are several important ecological factors to consider when planting trees in any given area including, but not limited to; the characteristics of the soil, the history of the area (did trees grow here in the past, and if so, how long ago were they present), and which species are native to the area. If scientists plan to replant a large percentage of the Earth’s land, then they absolutely must consider where and what species they choose to plant very carefully. Not every area of land is equally suited to any trees and different tree species have different requirements.
An article by the Guardian delves more deeply into the intricacies of where all of these trees could actually be planted while taking into account land used for the production of food and grazing. Scientists have estimate that there is 1.7 billion hectares of land suitable for reforestation with native species. And some countries are really paving the way and showing that reforestation is achievable! Another article by the guardian describes how the Ethiopian government has launched a new green initiative and as part of that, planted approximately 350 million trees in a single day, out-stripping the previous world record, held by India, of 35 mil trees. As simple as planting a tree can be, the planning needed to coordinate an effort such as this is immense especially when you take into account “the right tree in the right place”, the forester’s mantra.
Lots of catchy, trending headlines have been claiming planting trees could be the cure for climate change and other similarly misleading things. Although, I was pleasantly surprised to find as I go further into some of these articles that the writers did address some of my concerns that came from their sensational titles. In an article by Independent, the author included quotes from other scientists who are more skeptical of the potential of planting trees which emphasizes that planting trees is a long-term, not an instant, method for reclaiming carbon for the atmosphere and that really if we want to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere we need to stop putting it there in the first place. We obviously need systemic change to curtail our fossil fuel use, but planting trees is a relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated long-term solution that will aid in the fight against carbon emissions and climate change. My main point is; don’t get sucked in by the flashy, click-bait titles that media outlets are publishing about the next big climate change fix. Realistically it will take more than planting trees to halt and reverse climate change as we know it. But it’s a good, non-partisan start.
Conservation Made Simple