Plant trees to save the world

A new paper in Science reports a quantitative analysis of the impact of tree planting on future atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. They found it to be HUGE.

If you exclude areas of human habitation and farm land, there is enough space to plant billions of trees, each native to its area. And even grazing lands benefit from windbreaks and shelter trees.

Here is the abstract, which is in understandable language (not frequent in academic papers):

    The restoration of forested land at a global scale could help capture atmospheric carbon and mitigate climate change. Bastin et al. used direct measurements of forest cover to generate a model of forest restoration potential across the globe. Their spatially explicit maps show how much additional tree cover could exist outside of existing forests and agricultural and urban land. Ecosystems could support an additional 0.9 billion hectares of continuous forest. This would represent a greater than 25% increase in forested area, including more than 500 billion trees and more than 200 gigatonnes of additional carbon at maturity. Such a change has the potential to cut the atmospheric carbon pool by about 25%.


Mind you, the effect is not immediate. The best trees for soaking up carbon take many years to grow. However, recently I came across a Chinese proverb. “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Also, removing carbon already in the atmosphere doesn’t excuse spewing more into the air, and there are also methane and other greenhouse gases.

All we can do is the best we can do — and we must do that.

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
This entry was posted in Climate change, environment, good news. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Plant trees to save the world

  1. svenaake says:

    Growing the right kind of forests fights global warming and restores ecosystems. The question is: do we achieve this in large enough scale?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s