According to a new study in the journal Science, planting billions of trees around the world would be the cheapest and most effective way to tackle the climate crisis.
This represents about two-thirds of the 300 billion tonnes of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity since the Industrial Revolution.
Scientists aimed to show how many trees can be grown, where they could be planted and how much of an impact they would have on carbon emissions. If we act now, this could cut carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by up to 25%, to levels last seen nearly a century ago.
The researchers studied around 80,000 high-resolution satellite photographs of protected forest areas, from the arctic tundra to equatorial rainforest, to establish a "natural level" of tree cover for each ecosystem.
Over decades, the growing trees could suck up almost 830 billion tons (750 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to the study.
There are also many opportunities that present themselves in a reforested and afforested world, including the transformation of the construction industry to wood (continuing to store the Carbon dioxide in buildings as well as trees) and forest farming, which promises "abundance, as well as the kind of resilience a changing climate demands".
Stanford University environmental scientist Chris Field, who wasn't involved in the study, told AP its findings make sense but acting on it wouldn't be easy.
The scenario, they added, is "undoubtedly achievable under the current climate".Читайте также: Israeli police brace for more protests after teen's death
Now there are 5.5 billion hectares of forest (defined by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as land with at least 10% tree cover and without human activity), with a total 2.8 billion hectares of tree canopy cover.
More than 31 million square km of land could host more forest according to the study, but given that we need that land for crops and places to live, just 8 million square km of that land is actually suitable for forest cover.
Six nations with the most room for new trees are Russian Federation, the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China. It finds that there is likely to be an increase in the area of northern boreal forests in re-gions such as Siberia, but tree cover there averages only 30 to 40 percent. When the team excluded land already in use for urban and agricultural areas, they found there's 0.9 billion hectares of land available for planting forests.
That effort calls for 350 million hectares of degraded land worldwide to be restored by 2030. "You can grow trees yourself, donate to forest restoration organizations or just invest your money responsibly in businesses which are taking action on climate change". The Amazon is particularly at-risk since it's also expected to dry out. There's as much carbon captured and stored in all the trees of the Amazon as the amount the entire planet has emitted over the past 10 years.
Ms. Christiana Figueres, Founding Partner, Global Optimism and Former Executive Secretary, UN Climate Convention, also commented: "Finally an authoritative assessment of how much land we can and should cover with trees without impinging on food production or living areas".
They also took into consideration the human-related factors that could skew the estimates, such as farmland or other non-forest green spaces.
The forests could be regrown on 1.7 to 1.8 billion hectares of land in areas that are not now used as urban or agricultural land, adding 0.9 billion hectares of tree canopy cover, according to the study. Then they created a model that predicts Earth's potential forest capacity.При любом использовании материалов сайта и дочерних проектов, гиперссылка на обязательна.
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