One thing we need to work on is the rapidly diminishing tree population. Trees are the natural way to battle the climate crisis. A study finds that the “restoration of forested land at a global scale could help capture atmospheric carbon and mitigate climate change.” As trees mature, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving the climate crisis. This research calculates that a worldwide tree planting program could remove two-thirds of all the greenhouse gas emissions. We have the solution available, we just need to implement it.
Land availability is not the issue. Scientists found there are 1.7 billion hectares of land without trees on which 1.2 trillion native trees would grow. Natural ecosystems could support an additional 0.9 billion hectares of continuous forest, representing a greater than 25 percent increase in forested area, including more than 500 billion trees. That area is about 11 percent of all land and equivalent to the size of the US and China combined. We have the space and room to plant the trees. We just need to do it now.
In their study the scientists excluded urban areas and all fields used to grow crops, though they did include grazing land for animals, on which the researchers say a few trees can also benefit livestock. “The most effective projects are doing restoration for 30 US cents a tree,” said Crowther. “That means we could restore the [one trillion] trees for [$300 billion], though obviously that means immense efficiency and effectiveness. But it is by far the lowest cost solution that has been proposed.” Even if we include financial rewards to land owners for tree planting, Crowther thinks $300 billion would be within reach of a coalition of billionaire philanthropists and other types of funding.