Should we keep planting trees?

Governments and companies are very enthusiastic about projects aimed at planting trees. According to the promoters of these programs, planted trees can offset current carbon dioxide emissions and even remove those that have accumulated in the atmosphere for decades. For example, in 2020, the World Economic Forum launched the initiative trillion trees. One of the goals is to start a movement against climate change.

However, despite the large sums invested in these programs, the area of ​​forests on Earth is not increasing. Experts say the main problem is excessive attention to the number of trees planted and an insufficient number of surviving trees.

In 1978, China launched a massive tree-planting program 4,500 km in the north of the country to slow the progress of the Gobi Desert. a The analysis was performed in 2011 He explains, however, that 85% of plantations failed because the selected tree species did not survive in their new environment. A similar situation was observed in Turkey, where 90% of the trees planted in 2019 died within three months of being planted.

The problem, according to a Western Kenyan interviewed by Science News, is that you invest so much without paying attention to what happens next. Experts stress the importance of good planning when planting any species and at any location and then assessing growth.

Choose more efficient forests

In addition, not all reforestation projects are created equal. In fact, forests themselves can become sources of carbon dioxide due to land clearing activities, wildfires and the burning of wood products. For example, the forests of Southeast Asia now produce more carbon than they absorb. This is also the case with parts of the Amazon rainforest.

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According to experts, letting the forest grow naturally would remove much more carbon dioxide than planting new trees. New plantations consisting of one type of tree can emit more carbon than they do. This type of project can also reduce biodiversity.

Urgent need to act

Experts agree that climate change is accelerating. In the past 200 years, greenhouse gases have caused the planet’s temperatures to rise. Clearly, reducing carbon emissions is essential.

However, in the current situation, this will not be enough to limit the rise in temperatures. Therefore, technologies must be developed to remove carbon dioxide from the air. For example, some technologies aim to Convert it to fuel.

Reforestation remains a promising approach, provided existing initiatives are well planned and involve local communities.

Photo : Valiphotos | Pixabay

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