Climate change: How to plant trillions of trees without hurting people and the planet – Vox

“By planting millions of young trees, the nation is working to foster a new, lush green Turkey,” Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said when he kicked off the project in Ankara.

Less than three months later, up to 90 percent of the saplings were dead, the Guardian reported. The trees were planted at the wrong time and there wasn’t enough rainfall to support the saplings, the head of the country’s agriculture and forestry trade union told the paper…

One of the most stunning examples of these failures comes from Fleischman’s research in northern India. If there’s a place where tree-planting projects might work, it’s in the state of Himachal Pradesh, said Fleischman, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota who led the recent Nature study…

An analysis of satellite imagery and interviews with hundreds of households, however, revealed that decades of planting by the government — amounting to hundreds of millions of seedlings — “had almost no impact on forest canopy cover,” Fleischman wrote on Twitter. The researchers also measured a shift in the type of trees within the ecosystem, away from species that locals prefer for firewood and animal fodder. In other words, residents of Himachal Pradesh actually had fewer useful forest resources.

What went wrong? Some of the trees may have died quickly because they were planted in poor-quality habitat, Fleischman suspects. Farm animals could have also destroyed the saplings if they were planted in former grazing lands, he said. “Well-resourced forest restoration programs can fail to achieve their goals,” he added. “We need to be more skeptical of big claims.”

Researchers have also blamed large tree-planting efforts in China and Brazil for degrading grassland ecosystems. As I’ve previously reported, grasslands store vast amounts of carbon — most of which is below ground — and provide homes for countless species. Yet these ecosystems are sometimes considered degraded and are targeted for forest restoration campaigns…

Over the last 35 years, a nonprofit called Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas has worked with local communities to plant some 2.7 million native trees, as Mongabay’s Liz Kimbrough reports. The trees provide useful products that locals want, such as fruit to eat and wood for building, and a new revenue stream from selling seedlings. At the same time, the new trees create a network of forest corridors that has helped populations of the tamarin recover. In this case, it really does seem to be a win-win-win.

At the center of successful tree-planting campaigns like this are people, said Chazdon, who is compiling examples of effective restoration projects for a new mapping platform called Restor. As it happens, the platform is led by Thomas Crowther, an author of the controversial 2019 study in Science, which helped fuel the forest restoration frenzy.

 

 

Source: Climate change: How to plant trillions of trees without hurting people and the planet – Vox