Planting trees is not a panacea – El Sol de México

For 151 years, Americans have celebrated Arbor Day Which is celebrated on the last Friday in April, and they do Planting trees. It is now common to see business leaders, politicians, and celebrities join in this activity as a way to help rein in Climate change.

We all know that the the trees Store carbon, and provide a habitat for Animals and plantsPrevent erosion and create shade in cities. But as we have explained in detail on other forums, farming the trees Not a panacea to solve environmental problems And in order for trees to produce benefits, they must be properly planted, which is often not the case.

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It is impossible for humanity to chart its way out of climate change, as some advocates have suggested, though the trees They are part of the solution. Scientific assessments show that avoiding the worst consequences of climate change will require governments, businesses and individuals around the world to make rapid and drastic efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

next to, He plants trees In the wrong place it can have unintended consequences. For example, He plants trees In native grasslands, such as the North American grasslands or African savannas, these can destroy valuable ecosystems.

He plants trees Non-natives that grow rapidly in arid regions can also reduce the supply of water. and some farming programmes the trees Top-down policies implemented by international organizations or national governments displace farmers and push them to deforestation elsewhere.

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Large-scale tree planting initiatives have failed in places from Sri Lanka to Turkey to Canada. In some locations, tree species were not well adapted to local growing conditions. soil and climate. Elsewhere, the the trees They are not watered or fertilized. In some cases, local residents have removed trees that were planted on their lands without permission. And when trees die or are cut down, any carbon they have absorbed goes back into the atmosphere, negating the benefits of planting them.

Focus on planting trees

It’s time to change the farming story the trees to plant trees. Most tree planting efforts focus on digging a hole and placing a seedling in the ground, but the work doesn’t end there. and planting the trees It distracts from promoting natural forest regeneration.

to achieve benefits Planting treesThese should grow for a decade or more. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that reforested areas are often cleared again within a decade or two. We recommend that tree breeding efforts set goals for the amount of forest restored after 10, 20 or 50 years, rather than focusing on the number of seedlings planted.

Moreover, in some cases it may not be necessary to actively plant trees. For example, much of the eastern United States was recorded in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But over the past century, as nature has been left to take its course, large areas of forest have grown back again without people planting trees.

Support agricultural campaigns

Cultivation is expected the trees Obtaining unprecedented financial, political and social support in the coming years as part of United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and ambitious initiatives such as the Bonn Challenge and the World Economic Forum’s campaign to conserve, restore and plant a trillion trees. It would be a great waste to miss this unique opportunity.

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The following are key guidelines that we and others have suggested for improving the results of farming campaigns. the trees.

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Existing forests must also be kept standing. Global Forest Watch, an online platform that monitors forests around the world, estimates that Earth lost an area of ​​rainforest the size of New Mexico in 2020.

It is more effective to prevent existing forests from being cut down than to try to rebuild them. Existing forests provide benefits now, not decades into the future after they have been destroyed. the trees Mature.

Protecting existing forests often requires providing alternative income for the people who maintain them the trees on their land instead of cutting it or cultivating it. It is also important to strengthen the enforcement of protected areas and to strengthen supply chains for timber and Farms products Which does not mean cutting down forests.

* Professors of Restoration Ecology and Forest Restoration at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Sao Paulo.

Amber Cross

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