Recent analysis of NASA satellite data shows that despite the loss of vast tracts of tropical forest, the Earth has grown markedly greener since the turn of the millennium. Researchers at Boston University used satellite data to track the total surface area covered by leaves in the planet’s vegetated zones. They found that between 2000 and 2017, this area gained a number of hectares roughly equal in size to the Amazon rainforest.

Greening is most pronounced in China, thanks mainly to forest conservation and tree planting. However, China is not alone in reforestation efforts. For example, Ethiopia claims that it planted more than 350 million trees in a single daya world record.

Swiss climate scientist Tom Crowther argues that reforestation has the “mind-blowing” potential to remove two-thirds of all C02 emissions. Others are less optimistic.

Can reforestation reduce global warming? What costs are associated with large scale reforestation?

2 thoughts on “Plant a Tree – Save the Planet?

  1. Reforestation is mostly a good idea, of course, but there are always other sides to an issue. Here in Slovenia some of the most productive farmland is becoming afforested (reforestation through natural overgrowth instead of planned plantings) because people have moved away from those areas and there aren’t enough farmers to tend the farmland any more. It’s hard to say whether this is of overall benefit or not, climate-wise: Slovenia is not even close to self-sufficient in terms of food production, for one thing. That’s fine as long as we have the current happy trade situation the EU offers, but what if that were to change?

    I think that greening is mostly a good thing, but it can’t be seen as the main or only solution to climate change. At this point we need negative-emissions solutions as quickly as they can be brought online, and we have to stop burning fossil fuels. All the trees in the world can’t mitigate the urgency of taking these actions.

  2. Good input. We have a similar afforestation issue in Austria, especially in the Waldviertel but in also parts of Styria as well. I think population shift from rural to urban areas will have to be the topic of a future post.

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