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What if there were 1 trillion more trees? – Jean-François Bastin

Translator: rami durbas verified: omar idmassaoud With a height of about 84 meters, This is the largest known living tree on the planet. It's called General Sherman, These giant sequoias have sequestered approximately 1,400 tons of carbon in the atmosphere Over its estimated life of 2,500 years on Earth. Few trees can compete with this carbon effect. Today, however, humanity produces more than 1,400 tons of carbon every minute. To combat climate change, We need to sharply reduce fossil fuel emissions And drawing in the excess carbon dioxide to restore the balance of our atmosphere Of greenhouse gases.

But what can trees do to help this struggle? And how do you sequester carbon in the first place? Like all plants, trees consume atmospheric carbon Through a chemical reaction called photosynthesis. This process uses energy from sunlight To convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen And carbohydrates that store energy. Then the plants consume these carbohydrates in the opposite process It's called the breathing process, which turns it into energy It releases carbon back into the atmosphere. However, in trees, a large part of this carbon is not released. Instead, it's stocked in a new wood texture. During their lifetime, the trees act as carbon reservoirs And it keeps pulling in carbon as long as it grows. But when the tree dies and decays, Some of the carbon will be released back into the atmosphere. A large amount of carbon dioxide is stored in the soil.

Where it can survive for thousands of years. But eventually, that carbon will also leak back into the atmosphere. So if the trees will help combat a long-standing problem Like climate change, It needs to survive to sequester that carbon For as long as possible and at the same time to multiply quickly. Is there one type of tree that we can plant that meets these criteria? Some species are fast-growing, long-lived, and super insulated Can we spread it all over the world? Not to our knowledge? But if such trees exist, It will not be a good long-term solution. Forests are complex networks of living things. There is no single species that can thrive in every ecosystem. The trees that are most sustainable when planted are always native trees; Types have already played a role in their native environment. Initial research shows that ecosystems Those with a natural variety of trees have less competition Resource and better resistance to climate change. This means we can't just grow plants to pull carbon; We need to restore depleted ecosystems. There are many areas that have been cut short Or develop it and it is time to retrieve it.

In 2019, a study led by Crowther Zurich Laboratory It analyzed satellite images of tree cover located in the world. By combining these images with climate and soil data. By excluding areas essential for human use, They concluded that Earth could support About one billion hectares of additional forest. It is approximately 1.2 trillion trees. This stunned number surprised the scientific community, Which prompted more research. Scientists are now citing more conservatively but still noticeable. According to their revised estimates, these ecosystems can be restored Capture 100 to 200 billion tons of carbon, That's more than a sixth of human carbon emissions. More than half of the potential forest canopy As for the new restoration effort, it can only be found in 6 countries. The study can also provide an insight into current restoration projects.

Like the Bonn Challenge, It aims to restore 350 million hectares of forest by 2030. But here is where it gets complicated. Ecosystems are incredibly complex. It is unclear whether it would be better to restore them with human intervention. It could be the right thing to do in certain areas It is simply to leave her alone. Additionally, some researchers are concerned about forest restoration On this scale it may lead to unintended consequences. Such as the production of natural biochemicals At a pace that could actually accelerate climate change. Even if we manage to regain these areas, Future generations will need to protect it Of the natural and economic forces that previously depleted it. Collectively, these challenges weaken confidence In restoration projects around the world. And complexity in the process of rebuilding ecosystems It shows how important protecting our current forests is.

But we hope to recover some of these depleted areas It will give us the information and condemnation necessary to combat climate change On a larger scale. If we get it right, these modern trees may have time to grow Into carbon-bearing giants..

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