If tree-planting programmes work as advertised, they could buy precious time for the world to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and replace them with cleaner sources of energy. One widely cited 2017 study estimated that forests and other ecosystems could provide more than one-third of the total CO2 reductions required to keep global warming below 2 °C through to 2030.
Although the analysis relies on big assumptions, such as the availability of funding mechanisms and political will, its authors say that forests can be an important stopgap while the world tackles the main source of carbon emissions: the burning of fossil fuels. “This is a rope that nature is throwing us,” says Peter Ellis, a forest-carbon scientist at The Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia, and one of the paper’s authors.
Forests can reduce Earth’s surface albedo, meaning that the planet reflects less incoming sunlight back into space, leading to warming. This effect is especially pronounced at higher latitudes and in mountainous or dry regions, where slower-growing coniferous trees with dark leaves cover light-coloured ground or snow that would otherwise reflect sunlight. Most scientists agree, however, that tropical forests are clear climate coolers: trees there grow relatively fast and transpire massive amounts of water that forms clouds, two effects that help to cool the climate. (source: Nature.com)
What can you do to reforest the planet?
Plant trees anywhere you can - in your garden or in your balcony, use natural eco-friendly products, contribute to environmental organisations that plant trees where needed.