Why tree planting alone won't save the world

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Tree's are amazing! I love 'em. They can sequester 22kg per year and are a cheap way to make a big difference. But for as many emissions sources there are, we need many ways to sequester and remove this carbon dioxide. And, unfortunately trees alone aren't going to do this.

A rainbow graph showing greenhouse gases outputs and the natural sinks we need to absobe the emissions.
👆 A wonderful representation of emissions sources & natural sinks

There are a few reasons to note about why tree planting is hard and why we need an array of different solutions:

  • Saplings are vulnerable. Around a quarter will die young - BBC
  • It takes around 20 - 30 years for a tree to become mature enough to sequester 22kg per year.
  • There isn't enough land. You would need "1.6 billion hectares of extra land, that's five times the size of India that will need to be planted with new forests" - Danny Sriskandarajah (CEO of Oxfam GB)
  • "If you're saying you're going to offset something, then trees burn down or die every 40 years. The cost per tonne to really fund that over, say 4,000 years is very, very high. " - Bill Gates

This does not mean we stop planting trees. We just need to be mindful of their immediate impact. Backing different projects and solutions in the meantime need to be looked at and invested in too.

Project Drawdown

"Drawdown" is the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. This is the point when we begin the process of stopping further climate change and averting potentially catastrophic warming. It is a critical turning point for life on Earth.

Other simple solutions

1. Reduce food waste

The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of global emissions so simply buying and cooking what we need is a great place to start.

2. Educating Girls

By improving the health and educating girls around the world can make a huge positive impact on their lives, but also has the potential to help reduce 85.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide between 2020 - 2050.

One of my favorite projects doing great things in this area is the Sathyam Project in India.

3. Eat less meat

This has to be one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon emissions. By choosing to eat a more plant-based diet we could potentially avoid 64.8–91.5 gigatons of CO2 and become healthier in the process.

favoring plant-based foods reduces demand, thereby reducing land clearing, fertilizer use, burping cattle, and greenhouse gas emissions.

One way to start this is by going meat-free every Monday.

Summary

Tree's aren't the only answer to reduce carbon emissions. Alone they won't offset the overconsumption in our modern lives. We must continue to new trees and protect existing forests around the world. These exsisting forests are home to 10% of all species so incredibly important for bio-diversity.

But planting trees alone won't save the world. We need to look at many different drawdown solutions to reduce and remove carbon dioxide. Some of them are very easy with greater immediate impact.

Want to read more about trees? Read this article by Daniel Hartley.





Next up - Why we choose Ecologi to help

Looking at why we like to suggest using Ecologi to go carbon neutral.

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