Tree Tuesday

Chic Choc Mountains, Gaspe Peninsula ©voyager, all rights reserved

There’s one more reason to love trees. A new study from The Crowther Lab, ETH Zurich, published in the Journal of Science, July 2019, says that targeted reforestation could isolate 2/3 of human-made carbon emissions and would be the best way to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The researchers calculated that under the current climate conditions, Earth’s land could support 4.4 billion hectares of continuous tree cover. That is 1.6 billion more than the currently existing 2.8 billion hectares. Of these 1.6 billion hectares, 0.9 billion hectares fulfill the criterion of not being used by hu-mans. This means that there is currently an area of the size of the US available for tree restoration. Once mature, these new forests could store 205 billion tonnes of carbon: about two thirds of the 300 billion tonnes of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity since the Industrial Revolution.

Calculations were made based on current conditions and cities and agricultural areas were not included because those areas are necessary to support human life.

According to Prof. Thomas Crowther, co-author of the study and founder of the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich: “We all knew that restoring forests could play a part in tackling climate change, but we didn’t really know how big the impact would be. Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today. But we must act quickly, as new forests will take decades to mature and achieve their full potential as a source of natural carbon storage…. The study also shows which parts of the world are most suited to forest restoration. The greatest potential can be found in just six countries: Russia (151 million hectares); the US (103 million hectares); Canada (78.4 million hectares); Australia (58 million hectares); Brazil (49.7 million hectares); and China (40.2 million hectares).

I encourage you to check out the Crowther Website where you can read the report in full. The site also offers a tool that allows you to pinpoint any area on the globe to find out about its reforestation potential.


via: Science Daily


  1. says

    I would love if more forests helped to mitigate the disaster that we created. But we have to actively plant those forests, pronto.
    Like all other actions against climate change, this one requires us to spend money. And the rich of this world do intend to hoard it and sit on it.

  2. Nightjar says

    And the rich of this world do intend to hoard it and sit on it.

    Or try to go to Mars with it.

    We’re fucked, aren’t we?

  3. johnson catman says

    . . . 0.9 billion hectares fulfill the criterion of not being used by hu-mans.

    Was this done by a Ferengi? “Hu-mans.”

  4. lumipuna says

    In things like private carbon mitigation, planting trees seems to be all the rage these days. I sometimes wonder, on what land exactly this planting takes place. Also, who practically speaking owns the resulting trees, and who decides when/if they will be logged.

    Also, I wonder what’s keeping the trees from growing naturally on “unused” lands in climatically suitable areas. I suspect much of that 0.9 billion ha is currently treeless or only partially wooded because of low intensity cattle grazing and/or because local people harvest firewood. In these cases, the people need to be somehow compensated for forest conservation, or alternatively, someone needs to enforce forest protection against illegitimate land use.

    It could also be that soil erosion/grassland takeover and local climate change resulting from earlier forest destruction is seriously hampering natural tree establishment. In these cases, tree planting could certainly help to re-establish the forest. In commercial forestry, tree planting is routinely used to optimize forest regrowth after logging (and also to favor commercially valuable tree species and genotypes). Whoever owns the logging rights, has economic incentive to optimize tree growth, but same doesn’t generally apply to carbon storage or functional forest ecosystem.

Leave a Reply