Is planting trees a good idea?

DSC_2310Is planting trees a good idea?  Recently its been announced that to counter Donald Trumps decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate change treaty.  A group of people in New Zealand has started an on-line pledge page for donations to plant 10 billion trees worldwide.  This is an area the size of Kentucky.

This is to balance the total emissions that Trumps policies will put in the atmosphere by 2025.  650 million tonnes.  Planting trees is always a good idea.  As this blog has noted particularly in urban areas they have positive environmental, health and wellbeing effects.  Sticking it to Trump on almost anything at the moment has my support.  There is also a websearch engine Ecosia which uses the revenue from your searches to do the same thing.  It gives an implausible counter on how many have been planted so far.  The number is not, its the rate this number goes up that seems a bit rapid to me.  That being said I use it as my homepage and default search engine.

However my concerns are not with the idea but the long term implementation of the idea.  These trees need looking after.  Forests need management.  Walking with a group of people on Skye we came across the remains of trees that had been planted as a carbon offset by a well known rock band.  They had almost all died, largely defeating the purpose (some carbon was tied up in their remains).

The advantage is that trees can be planted very quickly (if not perhaps as fast as Ecosia claim) and when young absorb carbon very fast.  We need to stop deforestation worldwide so anything that can help in this regard is great.  But we should not rely on this without guaranteed protection and management.  Better still is not to put the carbon into the atmosphere in the first place…

Neil

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