The good, the bad and the leafy

September 1, 2021

Wood you like to talk about trees ?

Planting trees has been used for years as a way to combat climate change. Trees absorb CO2 removing it from the air and storing it whilst releasing oxygen. In June, Glasgow announced it’s plans to plant 18 million trees over the next 10 years.

Planting pros:

✅ Effective way to offset emissions ✅ Low cost ✅ Sequester carbon

Fun fact: An estimated 880 million tonnes of carbon are stored in UK forests.

It’s hard to beleaf that planting trees could be anything but good for the planet but, spoiler alert, it’s not all it’s barked up to be.

Sadly there are some cons:

❎ Used as a green washing tactic. Companies who ‘plant a tree for every purchase’ might be using trees to hide their actual carbon footprint eg. Coca-Cola funds national forest projects but year on year is found to be the world’s biggest plastic polluter.

❎ If planted in the wrong eco-system trees can increase the global temperature by preventing land from reflecting suns energy. This increases the temperature of that area.

❎ Plenty of tree planting schemes don’t monitor the trees once planted. Only 18% of all tree planting companies monitor their trees. Only 5% of those reported survival of the trees.

❎ Maximum carbon capture happens when a tree has been planted for 10 years. Restoring forests with fully grown trees could bring more immediate results.

❎ Saplings are often planted with plastic protective tubes which results in plastic filling our countryside. The woodland trust are hoping to stop using plastic tree protectors by the end of the year.

In conclusion, yes planting trees is a great way of tackling the climate crisis but trees need to be supported long term and restoration should go alongside it.

References : Guardian Science Podcast, Our climate crisis laid bare