Currently, deforestation accounts for 10 percent of all CO2 emissions. As one study describes it, if tropical deforestation were a country, it would rank third in CO2 emissions, just below the U.S. and above the EU by a significant margin. So what’s the relationship between deforestation and CO2 emissions? Trees naturally absorb harmful greenhouse gases, like CO2, from the atmosphere and conveniently store them for years to come. When a tree gets cut down, all of that stored CO2 gets released back into the atmosphere.
Global governments recognize that climate change isn’t just about fossil fuels anymore and that deforestation is a rapidly growing problem deteriorating the Earth’s atmosphere. This is why the UNFCCC, in the Paris Agreement, developed the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) solution in order to incentivize the reduction of deforestation efforts worldwide. Thanks to this agreement, and international reforestation plans, there is a renewed effort around the world to plant trees in order to sequester harmful CO2 out of the air.
Examples of Successful Reforestation Projects
Fortunately, some government entities have analyzed the severity of deforestation issues and identified how reforestation efforts can improve local ecosystems.
In Pakistan, the need to develop solutions to combat climate change is immediate as it is one of six countries most impacted by the atmospheric changes. Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Tehreek-e-Insaf party has spearheaded the Billion Tree Tsunami, which effectively reached its goal of planting one billion trees months ahead of schedule. This reforestation effort could help lessen the severity and frequency of climate change weather phenomena including droughts.
In the United States, the National Forest Service has dedicated the past several decades to minimizing the deforestation of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Not only do they continue to utilize government funds for reforestation, they have also included a campaign that encourages individual contributions towards reforestation. The Plant-A-Tree program encourages individuals to donate funds to help offset costs for planting trees nationally, proving we all are able to effectively combat climate change through reforestation efforts.
The Earth’s forests are aptly nicknamed the Earth’s lungs. Like our lungs, forests are responsible for breathing life into the world and all ecosystems and their inhabitants, humans included, would be in jeopardy without them. Reforestation is a crucial effort that needs to be successful in order to contend with the devastating effects of climate change. And with continued global efforts, there is greater hope for a cooler, more stable environment.
Image credits: Forest (Jachan DeVol on Unsplash); Tropical deforestation emissions comparison graph (Seymore and Busch)