Can planting billions of trees save the planet?

By Patrick Barkham, The Guardian

When Clare Dubois’s car skidded on an icy road in Stroud, Gloucestershire, a tree prevented her vehicle tumbling into a ravine. It was, she says, a sign. Humanity is nearing a precipice. Trees can stop us going over the edge.

This calling was so strong that Dubois, a business life coach, founded TreeSisters with a friend, Bernadette Ryder, to take on a daunting mission: to reforest the tropics within a decade.

In 2014, their new charity funded its first 12,000 trees by encouraging western women to make small monthly donations to reforestation projects in the tropics. Today TreeSisters is planting 2.2m trees (average cost: 33p a tree) each year across Madagascar, India, Kenya, Nepal, Brazil and Cameroon.

“We have to make it as natural to give back to nature as it is to take nature for granted,” Dubois says, musing on the need to “shift from a consumer species to a restorer species”.

She is not alone. The global elite is embracing tree-hugging rhetoric. It is as if the world has suddenly woken up to the restorative powers of plants.

Forests can stop runaway global heating, encourage rainfall, guarantee clean water, reduce air pollution, and provide livelihoods for local people and reserves for rare wildlife. Politicians are waking up to the potential of “natural climate solutions” – reforestation and other ecological restoration – to capture carbon and tackle the climate crisis. Such solutions could provide 37% of the greenhouse gas mitigation required to provide a good chance of stabilising global heating below the critical 2C threshold.

In March the United Nations announced a Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and has set a target to restore 350m hectares – an area bigger than India – by 2030...

Read the rest of this article on The Guardian here.