Why artificial planting of new forests is a useless idea that will not help nature

(ORDO NEWS) — Humanity has been cutting down forests for centuries and taking away the priceless resources of nature.

Now that man is on the brink of a climate catastrophe, governments, charities and private companies are trying to figure out how to restore natural forces. One such method is the artificial planting of trees in areas where forests were once destroyed. However, a study from last year shows that this is not such a good idea.

Of course, the best way to reduce the impact of the climate crisis is to conserve forests. Unfortunately, too many places in the world have already been cleared or “degraded” due to poor agriculture or other exploitation of the soil. Often lumberjacks and ranchers leave, leaving a void behind them.

Tree replanting has traditionally been thought to be the best way to restore carbon balance, but a 2020 study published in the journal Nature shows that it is cheaper to leave forests to grow naturally, and it also allows native trees and wildlife to thrive better and faster.

The most favorable regions for natural reforestation are the tropical regions of West and Central Africa. But in Central Europe and the Middle East, recovery takes longer.

The authors note that this is due to the fact that in some regions growth needs to be slightly pushed, and in some regions nature itself quickly “takes its own”.

“If seed sources are nearby and the site is not too degraded, then forests can probably grow on their own. If a site is degraded and seed sources are far away, or if the only seed sources are from one or a few species, then it is likely that the entire site needs to be actively planted or multiple plantings should be made to promote the restoration of a more diverse forest,” says Susan Cook-Patton, lead author of the study.

Forests annually absorb about a third of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. The study found that natural regeneration’s potential for carbon sequestration has been grossly underestimated, by about a third overall and about half in the case of tropical forests.

“Our goal was to show where forests can most quickly sequester carbon on their own. If we let them, they can do some of our climate mitigation work for us.”

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