Why Planting More Forests Can Bring More Damage Than Good


Large-scale tree growing can do the right opposite, rather than improving the ecosystem, two new studies have been found. One paper tells that financial incentives for planting trees can backlash with little impact on carbon discharges and reduce biodiversity. 

A separate project found that it is possible to overestimate the amount of carbon that newborn forests can absorb. Both papers’ key message is that planting the trees is not a simple solution to the climate. 

The idea of planting and growing trees as a low cost, high impact climate change solution has really seized hold over the last few years. Previous studies have shown that the trees have enormous possibilities to douse up and store carbon and many countries have set up tree-planting movement as a key component of their climate change plans. 

In the UK, political parties’ attempts to plant even greater numbers of trees have been a highlight of last year’s general election. President Donald Trump has paddled in behind the campaign against the big number of Trees in the US. Legislation has been implemented into the US Congress to support the idea.

Bonn Challenge is another important tree planting enterprise. Countries are urged by 2030, to restore 350 million and more hectares of debased and deforested land, says the WRI. So far the idea has been supported by about 40 nations. But scientists have been urging caution to plant new and fresh forests against the headlong rush. 

They point out that almost 80 percent of the dedications made to date in the Bonn Challenge involves growing monoculture plantations or a limited mix of trees producing specific products such as rubber or fruit. The few authors of this fresh study closely analyzed the financial incentives offered to grow trees to private landowners.

These big payments are seen as an important key element for significantly increasing the amount of trees. The study looked at Chile’s example, where a rule on subsidizing tree planting lasted from 1974 to 2012 of course, and it was widely regarded as a globally prestigious policy of afforestation. The legislation financed 75 percent of the cost of new forest planting. 

Although it was dedicated not to apply to existing forests, budgetary constraints and lax enforcement meant that some people who owned land were simply replacing domestic forests with more profitable new tree crops. Their big study found the subsidized scheme increased the treed area but decreased the native forest area. 

The authors point out that ever since the native forests of Chile are rich in biodiversity2 and store large quantities of carbon, the subsidized scheme has failed to increase carbon stores and accelerate the loss of biodiversity. 

A second study undertook to investigate how much carbon a newly planted forest could absorb from the atmosphere. So far, several scientists have estimated how much carbon trees will suck down from all the air using a steady ratio. 

The researchers, believing that this ratio would rely on local conditions, looked at China, which has observed an intensive tree growing by the government due to climate shift but also in an attempt to decrease dust from the Gobi desert. Looking at 11k soil samples seized from forested plots, the scientists found that adding new trees increased organic carbon density in low-carbon soils.