Global Tree restoration to stop climate change

For the first time scientists estimate how many trees and where to plant them to stop climate change.

The Crowther Lab of ETH Zurich published in the journal Science a study, showing that planting trees would be the most effective method to combat climate crisis.

The restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation.

Above: The global potential tree cover representing an area of 4.4 billion ha of canopy cover distributed across the world.   Credit ETH Zürich

“We mapped the global potential tree coverage to show that 4.4 billion hectares of canopy cover could exist under the current climate. Excluding existing trees and agricultural and urban areas, we found that there is room for an extra 0.9 billion hectares of canopy cover, which could store 205 gigatonnes of carbon in areas that would naturally support woodlands and forests.”

This highlights global tree restoration as one of the most effective carbon drawdown solutions to date. However, climate change will alter this potential tree coverage.

“We estimate that if we cannot deviate from the current trajectory, the global potential canopy cover may shrink by ~223 million hectares by 2050, with the vast majority of losses occurring in the tropics.

According to Prof. Thomas Crowther, co-​author of the study and founder of the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich:

“We all knew that restoring forests could play a part in tackling climate change, but we didn’t really know how big the impact would be. Our study shows that tree restoration can be a powerful tool for drawing carbon from the atmosphere. But we must act quickly, as new forests will take decades to mature and achieve their full potential as a source of natural carbon storage.”

source ETH Zürich