Climate change is a global challenge. Enormous amounts of carbon need to be sequestered to offset the CO2 emissions that are a major cause of rising temperatures.
There are many initiatives around the world to plant trees. Governments, organisations, companies - all with the same goal, but with different approaches. But trees are not only CO2 reservoirs. Forests are complex ecosystems that we are only just beginning to understand. Around 2 billion people worldwide depend on forests for work, food, shelter and water.
Researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens have developed a list of best practices to for reforestation. Here it is.
1. Put existing forests first
The first step has nothing to do with new trees - but with those that already exist. Every year we lose large areas of forest. Governments and companies around the world must actively fight deforestation.
2. Stronger together
Reforestation is a global challenge, and almost paralysing in its size. It can only be done if people at all levels work together. Research shows that reforestation projects fail if they do not involve local communities.
3. Increasing biodiversity and pursuing multiple goals
Optimise the work: Planting trees to combat climate change, increase biodiversity and provide economic and cultural benefits.
4. The right location
Not every area is suitable for reforestation. Wild ecosystems such as wetlands, peatlands or grasslands already contribute a lot to carbon sequestration. Planting trees here would do more harm than good. Areas that connect existing forests or "reclaim" lost land are ideal.
5. Natural regeneration
Sometimes it is easiest to let nature work for itself. Forest areas recover on their own if the previous damage is not too great. Passive restoration is the scientific term. The advantage is that it is cheaper, and in many cases more effective. Natural areas can absorb up to 40 times more CO2.
6. The choice of species
When natural regeneration alone is not enough, our intervention is called for. Native, endangered or rare trees that complement the existing ecosystem are ideal. It's all in the mix: a good mix makes forests healthier and more resilient.
7. Use robust plant material
Speaking of resilience: the best tree species, also in view of the global problems of climate change, are those that are as strong as possible. Seedlings in healthy genetic diversity make the population more resistant to pests and extreme weather conditions.
8. Planning ahead
A reliable supply chain is at the heart of any project. Timely planning helps to avoid problems. Important: working with local communities. Without training and education of workers, a project cannot have long-term success - and thus no ecological effect.
9. Learning by doing
Research, scientific preparation and planning precede every project. A small-scale test provides important data before deploying all resources. How does the ecosystem react? Things can go wrong. No problem if you learn from it.
10. Work must be worthwhile
A simple principle that should also apply in reforestation. Implementing projects is not a cheap process, so it is important to generate income streams to feed into the work. Reforestation primarily helps the environment, but it can also help the local economy and thus have a social impact.
At Treedom, we see our work clearly reflected in these principles. If you want to know more about our methodology, you can read it in the Treedom Standard. In the meantime, let's keep planting...