From Norway to Nepal, reforestation has become a global symbol of faith for the future. But we must ensure that our excitement about tree planting doesn’t draw away from the fact that it is actually only part of the solution to climate change, and not the whole solution.
It is true that planting trees where forests have been cleared2 brings hope for the climate. Trees control the water cycle and store carbon. They also increase the number of species living in an area. Each of these slow the pace of climate change. People are starting to realise the benefits of forest management and as a result, examples of reforestation projects are appearing all around the world.
Reforestation examples in Brazil
The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is one of the obvious examples of a place in dire need of reforestation. After a 17% loss in land area in the last 50 years3, the region is now the focus of a 6-year tree planting program. The aim of the project is to plant 73 million trees in the area by 2023. This is the world’s largest ever tree planting project in tropical forests4.
Two methods are applied in this area: direct planting and sowing of native trees. The former provides a quick solution to global warming by aiding carbon capture from the air. But soils become poor. So, the latter is used with direct planting to promote natural regeneration of the forest. Above all, this prevents soil erosion. This project will help Brazil meet its target of planting 12 million hectares of land by 20304.
Reforestation examples in The USA
The United States of America is also restoring vast areas of forest cover. Planting new trees is certainly the best way to increase carbon capture there5. For instance, one project aims to plant 7 million acres of land a year across 23 states6. Like in Brazil, this project also aims to plant native tree species in each state. For example, one aims to plant 8 million acres of longleaf pine in the southeast of the country by 2025.
Other Reforestation Projects
The success of these efforts in Brazil and the USA show a global effort to tackle climate change. Lots of similar examples of reforestation exist around the world. For example, China showed off plans in 2016 to plant forests covering an area the size of Ireland7. A year later, people in India planted 66 million trees in 12 hours in a record-breaking effort8. Also, the UK Government and The Woodland Trust have pledged nearly £16 million for tree planting in the UK. They aim to plant 50 million trees in England by 20439.
The number of projects around the world is climbing. In line with this, hope for the climate’s future is rising. Whilst reforestation is not a silver bullet solution to global warming, it is a natural way to slow it down. More trees also means more clean water and better farming.
If people keep placing their trust in trees alongside other means of slowing climate change, like reducing our usage of fossil fuels, the future of the planet looks to be ever stronger.
1Can We Plant Enough Trees?, The Rolling Stone, 13 March 2020
2Definition of ‘Reforestation’, Cambridge Dictionary
3Deforestation and Forest Degradation, World Wildlife Fund
4World’s Largest Tropical Reforestation Project to Take Place in the Amazon Rainforest, Conservation International, 19 September 2017
5Let’s Reforest America to Act on Climate, American Forests, 26 February 2019
6Restoring America’s Forests, The Nature Conservancy
7China to create new forests covering area size of Ireland: China Daily, Reuters, 5 January 2018
8India plants 66 million trees in 12 hours as part of record-breaking environmental campaign, The Independent, 3 July 2017
9Government pledges £5.7m to develop new northern forest, The Guardian, 7 January 2018