While there’s debate whether planting trees at scale can curb global warming, offsetting carbon emissions isn’t the only benefit of doing so. There are actually ten golden rules for reforestation that aim to restore ecological balance, improve biodiversity and improve resources for humans, animals and critters alike.
The human “usefulness” component is important. Getting local communities involved in tree planting campaigns is easier when they understand concrete benefits rather than abstract future possibilities.
Put another way:
Many current tree-planting initiatives for forest landscape restoration fail because they do not sufficiently consider the needs of the local communities who plant and tend them. In these situations, the planted trees are neglected and consequently do not survive to maturity. The range of species selected for use in restoration is furthermore limited, with an emphasis on easy-to-propagate exotic species that do not support biodiversity. To help address these concerns, the ’10 golden rules for reforestation’ were recently developed18. Among these ‘golden rules’ there is an emphasis on maximising native tree biodiversity and addressing local community needs to support success.
World Agroforestry, a research and development non-profit focused on food security and environmental sustainability, has identified approximately 14,000 trees around the world that are useful to humans. By useful, we mean species that provide materials, medicines and foods among other benefits.
Better, their data is public. And better yet, they have an app to help you filter through native trees by country, region and territory. It’s called GlobalUsefulNativeTrees – or GlobUNT – and it combines tree data from Botanic Gardens Conservation International with plant data from the World Checklist of Useful Plant Species.
Researchers have identified 4.2 billion acres (1.7 billion hectares) of treeless land where over a trillion native saplings could grow. To visualize the landmass, imagine combining the United States and China. Significantly, the land identified does not encroach on existing cropland or urban areas.
Again, carbon sequestration is a benefit, but so too creating healthy ecosystems. It’s not just putting trees in the ground.
This is where GlobUNT comes into play. By understanding the diversity of native trees and their benefits, we better equip ourselves to take on mindful planting at scale.
Somewhat Related: A new study suggests restoring global forests could capture 226 gigatons of carbon. With over 200 authors, the study seeks to clarify a 2019 paper that helped spur the Trillion Trees movement but also generated a scientific concern about potential greenwashing