Environmental Laboratory

  • Should We Plant Forests to Tackle Climate Change?

Should We Plant Forests to Tackle Climate Change?

Jan 28 2018

The importance in preserving and rehabilitating forests has been widely understood for decades. But climate change is having a serious impact on the world’s forests. It’s estimated to cause 8 million acres of deforestation annually. Can we help? Read on as we look at the fight to restore forests and how it can help the environment.

Forests and the environment

As well as being home to an abundance of species, forests are a massive aid in the fight against climate change. They can store vast amounts of carbon extracted from the air and remove large amounts of greenhouse gases found in the earth’s atmosphere – as well as releasing oxygen. As a result, countries around the world are beginning to recognise the importance of reforestation and how it can help combat air pollution.

The Chinese approach

China are one of the latest nations to jump on the environmentally friendly bandwagon. As the biggest polluter in the world – producing almost double the amount of greenhouse gases as the US – they certainly need a way to reduce air pollution as quickly and efficiently as possible.

At the beginning of 2018, they announced plans to over 6.7 million hectares of trees – equivalent to the size of Ireland. This major reforestation project comes after the Chinese officials declared to fight climate change in 2014, following extreme levels of air pollution in recent years. They are aiming to cover 23% of China’s landmass with forests by 2020, hoping to dramatically reduce the amount of greenhouse gases surrounding the country.

As well as planting more trees, China is also aiming to start an ‘ecological red line’ program. This program looks to end construction near rivers, forests, and national parks. Between 3.5 – 7 billion trees are cut down a year in order to make way for large industrial practices such as palm oil, paper and wood industries. By preventing this and creating more forests, China can take a step towards fighting climate change.

How does reforestation work?

One single hectare of forestland has the capacity to inhabit up to 2,500 trees, meaning that China’s project to reforest over 67 hectares has the potential to sustain over 167,000 trees. And, considering that one tree has the capability of producing almost 260 pounds of oxygen, it could dramatically reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the Chinese atmosphere. On top of absorbing greenhouse gases and producing oxygen, forests regulate water flow and prevent coastal communities from the possibly of sea levels rising.

Are forests the future?

With the world’s forests acting as substantial carbon stores – storing up to double the amount of carbon found in the atmosphere – a greener, forest-filled earth does seem like the way forward. But, there’s still so much we don’t know about the environment. With new substances being discovered, we may still need to develop new solutions as well as embarking on reforestation projects. The article, ‘Do you know NORMAN?’ looks at research into emerging environmental contaminants.


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