There are around 60,000 tree species in the world, spread out across myriad ecosystems. Within these ecosystems, and around these trees, are countless other organisms ranging from the tiniest bacterium to the mightiest moose.
Between the trees, their landscapes and their peer flora and fauna, exist startlingly complex relationships that we’re only just beginning to understand. The matter gets even more complex when you factor humans into the equation – around 2 billion people rely on forests alone, for work, food, shelter and water. Of course, trees play a massive role in sequestering carbon from our atmosphere.
It’s perhaps no surprise then, that there are a healthy number of tree planting initiatives around the globe – run by businesses, governments and even individuals. Make no mistake: we need to be planting trees. But while many of these initiatives are certainly ambitious, it’s important that we establish a set of best practices to get the most from the resources we put into restoring forests.
With our colleagues at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), and partners from around the world, we helped to develop a list of ’10 golden rules’ to improve tree planting efforts in terms of carbon sequestration, biodiversity and human livelihoods.
1. Protect Existing Forests First
Right now, the world is losing areas of forest equal to the size of the United Kingdom each year. This means less carbon is sequestered, and in many cases, more carbon dioxide emissions. Old growth forests are massive carbon sinks, and it can take hundreds of years for them to fully recover.
A crucial first step to preserve trees around the world is to simply protect the ones we have already. Governments of all levels, and corporations, should actively combat deforestation.
2. Work Together
Reforestation can be a truly daunting project, but at its core it needs to engage with local communities and the people who live and work with the trees themselves. Research suggests that many attempts at reforestation fail simply because they don’t involve local communities.
The people living in the areas benefit from tree planting and forest maintenance, both economically through the creation of jobs, and in terms of health. They are also subject experts in the forests themselves, and the issues facing them. Read more…