Earth Could Support Enough Additional Trees to Cut Carbon Levels

Katie Ramirez
July 7, 2019

The study found that more than half of the tree restoration potential went to six countries: Russian Federation (151 million hectares), the United States (103 million), Canada (78 million), Australia (58 million), Brazil (50 million) and China (40 million).

"This is by far - by thousands of times - the cheapest climate change solution" and the most effective, study co-author Thomas Crowther, a climate change ecologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, told the Associated Press.

The researchers say a program at this scale could remove about two-thirds of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions caused by human activities since the start of the industrial revolution, or almost 25% of the CO2 in the atmosphere. Crowther says tree planting is "a climate change solution that doesn't require President Trump to immediately start believing in climate change, or scientists to come up with technological solutions to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere".

The best way to keep climate change in check is by replanting trees on destroyed forest areas the size of the United States, scientists said on Thursday, as doing so would capture two-thirds of man-made planet-warming emissions.

The top four places primed for reforestation are Russian Federation, the US, Canada and Australia, all developed countries and, in the case of the first three, all home to a piece of the vast boreal forest that rings the northern tier of the world. They then used machine learning to identify 10 soil and climate variables that determine tree cover in each ecosystem, and created a predictive model to map potential tree cover worldwide under current environmental conditions. That means we could restore 1 trillion trees for $300 billion, though obviously that means vast efficiency and effectiveness.

Environmentalists say looking after existing forests and restoring damaged ones prevents flooding, stores carbon, limits climate change and protects biodiversity. "Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today", said Crowther.

"It will take decades for new forests to mature and achieve this potential", said Prof Crowther.

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Form for signing up for free newsletter. Researchers estimate that even with existing cities and farmland, there's enough space for new trees to cover 9 million square kilometres around the globe or about the area of the United States. The team said their study evaluated the United Nations claim for the first time, showing where the trees could be restored and how much carbon they could capture.

"It is no doubt a monumental project, which is exactly the dimensions of the project of climate alternate".

"The question of whether it is actually feasible to restore this much forest is much more hard", Field said in an email.

Using the term "god send" in relation to climate change is a little misleading.

'One aspect was of particular importance to us as we did the calculations: we excluded cities or agricultural areas from the total restoration potential as these areas are needed for human life, ' lead author Jean-François Bastin said in a statement. It finds that there is likely to be an increase in the area of northern boreal forests in re-gions such as Siberia, but tree cover there averages only 30 to 40 percent. However, this would be outweighed by losses in dense tropical forests, which typically have 90-100% tree cover.

However, it remains unclear if these restoration goals are achievable because researchers do not know how much tree cover might be possible under current or future climate conditions. It also offers lists of for-est restoration organisations. The newly filled out forests would be a huge boon to absorbing new emissions and the carbon pollution we've committed to the atmosphere.

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