Planting Trees Is Good. Eliminating Deforestation is Better.

From Mother Jones:

The UN report says we just have to stop cutting them down

Forests provide many benefits beyond storing carbon, they store and recycle our water, they prevent erosion, they harbor biodiversity. There’s a legion of reasons to protect forests, especially in the tropics. When we plant forests, we gain some of those benefits, but it takes years to decades to grow a healthy forest.” Rob Jackson, Stanford University

Every year, an estimated 15 billion trees are chopped down across the planet to make room for agricultural and urban lands and other uses. We’ve cut down so many, in fact, that what’s left is about half of the number of trees that the Earth supported before the rise of human civilization, and scientists warn that it’s not helping our climate. Planting more trees is one way to offset deforestation. But now, a report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that to have a shot at combatting the climate crisis, among other efforts, we’ll need to cut down fewer trees to begin with.

Global deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Of all the land-use-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2007 and 2016—between 2.6 and 7.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide yearly—most of it comes from deforestation, the IPCC report’s authors estimate.

Rebecca Leber explains:

The way we eat, farm, and cut down forests contributes in a major way to the climate problem. Deforestation, agriculture, and other land use are already responsible for 23 percent of the rise in human-caused greenhouse gases, and agriculture is responsible for 44 percent of methane emissions. Those numbers will certainly grow without changes in land management—changes like growing forests and improving soil’s carbon capture with more native plants and crops.

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