"Plant a tree and help us reforest the planet"
"We plant trees in exchange for interactions on social networks"
"We give you a tree with every purchase so that you can plant it"
"Plant a tree, plant life"
Have you read these before? They are all common slogans.
Surely this situation sounds familiar to you: a brand that promises to plant a tree or involve in any reforestation project. Today we want to analyze whether these actions are as positive as they sound, or whether these initiatives could be not as sustainable as promised.
Reforestation is a concept that we quickly identify with combating climate change. Why?
- Planting trees is one of the best ways to absorb the carbon dioxide (CO2) present in the atmosphere and transform it into oxygen. This simple action by plants effectively helps to reduce the accumulation of greenhouse gases and thus slow down climate change.
- Trees have a positive impact on the environment, as they act as natural filters, reducing air and water pollution, favoring the health of our soils and promoting wildlife life.
- It is important to remember that they are a source of timber and forest products.
So far so good. But do we really need to plant more trees? According to The Crowther Lab, the world has the capacity for 6.5 trillion trees. As of today, there are about 3.5 trillion and there is room for another 1.5 trillion (without taking up land for cultivation).
There are experts in the field who express their disagreement with the current reforestation techniques as Víctor Resco de Dios, researcher in Agrotechnology at the University of Lleida, states in his article 'The Conversation'. Here are his main arguments:
- The growth of trees is slow until they act as atmospheric cleaners.
- CO2 is also released during planting.
- Plantations are made, but then there is no follow-up due to maintenance costs, so they are abandoned. In other words, the tree you have planted is likely to die later, and the effort made comes to nothing.
- We have the mistaken belief that by planting trees we fix climate change and, in this way, we continue to emit gases into the atmosphere at the same rate.
In addition, there is a very important action that must be carried out on numerous occasions and which is eternally forgotten due to its cost: thinning and the use of forestry engineering techniques. If these "forest clearings" are not carried out, the chances of generating mega-fires are very high. We have already witnessed the wave of fires in the summer of 2022 in Spain, Portugal and France.
Focus on the essential and achievable objective
We do not detract from the value of planting, but it is important not to put the cart before the horse and to focus our efforts on the real goal to be achieved: to take better care of our planet.
How can we do it then? Reforestation is a suitable method for ecosystems that have suffered losses of biodiversity, suffer especially from erosion or are damaged due to human action. It is just as important to create new forests through reforestation as it is to take care of existing forests and promote the development of measures that encourage the urgent reduction of emissions. As always, finding a balance is the main thing in the actions we propose to take care of the environment so as not to fall into easy solutions or the dreaded greenwashing.