Since 2018, we have been actively doing something with you against climate change - product by product, Tree by tree. Scientists at ETH Zurich have now demonstrated that reforestation can play more than just a nice side role in the fight against greenhouse gases. They put their heads together and in the end they themselves were surprised how effective afforestation can be as a measure against climate change.
Planting trees helps - you can do that here please read it again :). However, the authors' calculations make it clear that government-funded large-scale reforestation could be a decisive lever for meeting the 1.5 degree target of the Paris Climate Convention.
Almost one billion hectares of forest is possible
A team led by Jean-Francois Bastin from ETH Zurich has investigated what this could look like. They looked into the question of how many trees could be planted on earth at present. To this end, they analysed almost 80,000 forest areas using satellite images to check how much of the Earth's surface is covered with forest and how much could still be planted. The result: 4.4 billion hectares of forest could cover our planet. That is 1.6 billion hectares more than we have now. However, due to population growth, we will soon need another 0.7 billion hectares of it for urban development and agriculture. So that leaves 0.9 billion hectares of potential land to be planted, which is about the size of the entire United States. If this area were actually planted with trees, they could store 205 billion tons of CO2 - two thirds of the amount that we humans have caused since the Industrial Revolution!
Responsibility lies primarily with the industrialised nations
During their investigations, the researchers also found out that more than half of the area suitable for reforestation is located in Russia, the USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China. This means that the responsibility lies primarily in the hands of the major industrialised countries. Because, brace yourself: the researchers themselves were surprised by the results of the study and consider reforestation to be the currently the best solution to slow down climate change! Above all because it is cheap and easy to implement and does not require any particularly sophisticated technology. You could start immediately! Jean-Francois Bastin therefore calls for governments to integrate afforestation into their national climate strategy now.
It must go fast
But for the trees to be able to exploit their natural potential as natural CO2 reservoirs, rapid action is now required. After all, it takes decades for the forests to mature and bind the necessary amount of CO2. And the authors of the study also stress that global deforestation is likely to increase as a result of progressive climate change. The tropics are crucial, they say, where deforestation must be stopped first and foremost - especially in Indonesia and Brazil. But there we can also look to our own nose in faraway Europe - because meat consumption is a decisive factor here. On the land that was once rainforest, soya is now mainly grown for animal feed. In addition, the rainforest has a particularly positive influence on the climate because it provides regional cooling through evaporation.
Perhaps reforestation is not a magic bullet in the fight against climate change, but it is a major lever that we can and should use. Especially since trees not only have a positive influence on the climate, but also strengthen biodiversity, regional economies, food security and ecosystems. We are more secure than ever with our 1 product=1 tree action to have taken a meaningful path. Are you with me?