Why Planting Trees Is The Most Powerful Tool We Have

When it comes to combatting climate change, we need to seize every available option. But one deceptively simple solution has been consistently overlooked — new research shows that planting trees may be our single most effective way of fighting emissions. And it’s something so many of us can do.

Because trees absorb carbon dioxide emissions, they are in some ways obvious tools But researchers were shocked to see that a worldwide planting initiative could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that humans have caused. The potential scale of it is truly astounding.

“This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” Professor Tom Crowther from the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who was in charge of the research, explained. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”

Of course, for the full scale of the benefits to be recognized, we will need government-backed initiatives, with the full funding and commitment of the largest countries. Luckily, some countries are already making strides in that direction. But in the meantime, there are still steps that many of us can take as individuals.

 

 

If you live in a city, you may have to have special permissions to plant trees — and no matter where you live, it’s important to do some research and consider the practicalities.

“It’s no use planting an oak tree two feet outside your back door – it will damage your house,” John Tucker, director of woodland outreach at the Woodland Trust, told the Guardian. “You need to think about house foundations, underground drains, overhead power lines and make sure the tree is going to be in a place where it can grow and not have any adverse impact.”

But for those who have the space and the ability, there’s no reason that planting trees can’t be done on a micro and a macro level. Yes, push for government initiatives — they’ll make the most change — but you can also get involved right here at home.

In the fight for our climate, we cannot afford to leave any stone unturned. To truly combat the grave damage that’s already been done, we’ll need to embrace each and every option — and the best time to start is right now.