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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Plant Trees

Plant Trees

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Wednesday, January 29, 2020/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, sustainability, environment, climate change, plants

                                   Aerial Forest View (credit: Inside Ecology/Crowther Lab Zurich)

A report from researchers with the Swiss Global Ecosystem Ecology Lab in Zurich have determined that replanting trees planting could provide a critical tool in helping to solve climate change impacts. However, the task will be daunting.

The biology of CO2 sequestration is straightforward: trees (and all plants) absorb CO2 during photosynthesis producing roots, leaves, and trunks from the carbon in the process. The Swiss recognized this in their global analysis. Key elements of the report say that: 0.9 billion hectares of land (2,223,948,433 acres) is available for reforesting now; forest restoration could provide a 20 year pause in climate warming; and that coastal ecosystems are capable of storing carbon up to 40 times faster than land-based forests and should also be included in any restoration plans. The land area represents the size of the United States that is available for tree planting.

Tropical deforestation and conversion of northern boreal forests is recognized as a major contributor to climate change through the release of stored carbon from the burned and cleared forests. The causes for this destruction are many: rapid population growth; conversion of forested landscapes into agricultural and grazing land; commercial and illegal logging; urbanization; weak governance; and official corruption. A general video presentation was produced by the National Geographic Society:

Countries as diverse as Brazil, Indonesia, and Russia have seen recently deforestation accelerating rather than the reverse of replanting denuded areas with new trees. The organization Global Forest Watch has created a series of interactive maps that allow anyone to view the status of forests anywhere. It is particularly useful in tracking deforestation and providing the exact information to forest enforcement management and protection agencies.

It is too early to know if the recommendations made in the Swiss report will be acted upon, or who will pay for the replanting. Mass reforestation efforts may prove difficult to effectively implement irrespective of how important a role trees could play in carbon capture. However, there are examples of pro-active and successful reforestation projects underway but they remain at a small scale compared to the vast need.

Still, plant trees is a good mantra for anyone to follow. It contributes to any effort at reducing or removing CO2 from the atmosphere and oceans.



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