Both Australia and New Zealand aim to grow one billion new trees over the next decade. Pakistan launched its so-called Billion Tree Tsunami in 2014. After restoring 350,000 hectares of forest ahead of schedule, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched a 10 Billion Tree Tsunami in 2018 with a five-year goal.
But does planting trees always reduce carbon in the atmosphere?
Scientists argue that, done right, tree-planting works as part of the wider effort to reduce carbon. One advantage? It can be done relatively easily and quickly on a large scale, said Julia Pongratz, a climatologist and earth systems modeller at the University of Munich. “It’s working, right? We’ve been planting forest for 10,000 years.”
Pongratz said forestation could remove 500 to 7,000 megatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere a year. Some studies put the figures even higher.
But we should be careful about assuming that trees alone can save us. A recent CBC article debunked the idea (popular on Facebook) that Canada’s abundant trees can sequester any carbon we produce. The truth is that our trees may actually emit more carbon than they absorb, as a result of wildfires and natural die-off.