It Isn’t Just the Trees – It’s Where You Plant Them

A recent study by a team of researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Carnegie Institution and Université Montpellier II, have concluded that the positive effects of planting trees from a global warming perspective depends on where those trees are planted. Reported in the researchers found that reforestation in mid to high latitudes are likely to be ineffective in reducing global temperatures while the opposite is true with trees planted in tropical rainforests.

Details of the study are found in the report, but the gist of study seems to be that reforestation as a general rule is not a comprehensive answer in the fight to curb catastrophic climate change. As researchers state, “To prevent climate change, we need to transform our energy system. It is only by transforming our energy system and preserving natural habitat, such as forests, that we can maintain a healthy environment. To prevent climate change, we must focus on effective strategies and not just ‘feel-good’ strategies.”

I have made the point before, in my article about carbon offset programs, that relying on reforestation as a counter to CO2 emissions and global warming is a little dubious. And in fact, as is stated by researchers of this study, the real cure is a transformation of our energy economy. I believe it is good for those of us responsible for most of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere – and that certainly includes the writer of this blog and anyone reading it – to take whatever steps we can toward mitigating our carbon footprint, including participating in worthwhile carbon offset programs.

However, the obvious and best solution is not putting the carbon in the atmosphere in the first place. The task ahead is daunting and complex, and we musn’t get sidetracked by pursuing solutions that avoid the real and unavoidable pain of change only for a temporary feeling that something has been done, when in fact it hasn’t, or has even made the situation worse. This is not, I believe, the legacy we want to leave our children.

reforestation forest carbon carbon emission global warming climate change

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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