If we are successful in planting more trees, to the tune of 1.2 trillion more trees, we could save Earth, with trees capable of storing so much carbon dioxide that they could cancel out a decade’s worth human-created carbon dioxide emission. Thanks to work of ecologist Thomas Crowther and colleagues at Swiss University ETH Zurich we now know that there is room for additional 1.2 trillion trees on the planet. Crowther stated that planting trees is our “most powerful weapon” in protecting the planet, “There’s 400 gigatons [of carbon] now, in the 3 trillion trees, and if you were to increase that up by another trillion trees that’s in the order of hundreds of gigatons captured from the atmosphere — at least 10 years of anthropogenic emissions completely wiped out.”
The United Nations already responded to the findings, changing their Billion Tree Campaign to the Trillion Tree Campaign, which states, “Global reforestation could capture 25 percent of global annual carbon emissions and create wealth in the global south”. As part of the campaign more than 13.6 billion trees have already been planted, this campaign not only tracks where trees have been planted but also where forests currently exist and where forests could be restored. The Trillion Tree Campaign states that without taking space away from agricultural land, there is actually space for up to 600 billion mature trees on the planet. However, since some planted trees won’t survive, the target is to plant at least 1 trillion trees to reach the 600 billion mature tree goal. “Additionally, we must protect the 170 billion trees which are in imminent risk of destruction. They are crucial for carbon storage and essential ecosystems to protect biodiversity,” they stated.
Loss of biodiversity is another major environmental hurdle that planting more trees could help remedy. Deforestation, forest degradation and other factors are currently threatening about half of the species of trees worldwide, which could have dire consequences on the productivity of ecosystems therein. We all must do our part, like the students at Northeastern University. To appreciate the importance of the 147 different species of trees, that grow on campus, they celebrated their first Arbor Day this year. To celebrate the day, the facilities department gave away seedlings for people to plant. Six species were available: Colorado Blue Spruce, Eastern Redbud, Bur Oak, Red Maple, Swamp White Oak, and Sugar Maple. Each seedling came in a small burlap bag that could later be washed and reused for produce, along with a small tag with instructions on how to plant the seedling.