Iceland Recovering from Deforestation

Long ago, when the vikings first arrived in Iceland the land was forested. Something between 25-40% of the country was covered by trees and humans slowly cut down the trees to an extent that was harmful to local ecosystems. Efforts to replant trees in the country have failed since they brought seeds from outside the country and a warming planet hasn’t been friendly to those trees. Now they are using native species to grow their forests and it’s working.

Thanks to Trevor!

1.2 Trillion Trees can Balance a Decade of CO2 Emissions


The anti-conservation “conservative” Ontario government recently announced they cancelled a program that helped plant 28 million trees. The goal of that program was to plant 50 million trees to reduce flooding (which parts of Ontario are currently suffering from), clean the air, and protect wildlife. Fortunately there are smarter governments outside of Ontario that realize we need trees to breath and live.

A study by ETH Zurich has revealed that if we plant 1.2 trillion trees we can essentially cancel out a decade of anthropogenic carbon emissions. That might sound like a lot of trees but we do have space for them and can easily reach that goal, as long as governments that care about people are voted in. You can act locally and plant a tree in your yard (if you have one).

There is enough room in the world’s existing parks, forests, and abandoned land to plant 1.2 trillion additional trees, which would have the CO2 storage capacity to cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new analysis by ecologist Thomas Crowther and colleagues at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university.

The research, presented at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington, D.C., argues that planting additional trees is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases.

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Urban Forests Suck up tons of Carbon

The lush, dense, quality of rainforests instantly make one think of how beautiful and efficient they are at making fresh air (and thus suck up carbon). As a result of the obvious wonderfulness of rainforests we’ve done a lot of work to try to protect rainforests from destruction. We need to the same in our cities. In London, researchers used LIDAR technology to better understand how much carbon urban trees soak up. Trees in urban centres love to absorb that carbon! The proximity to carbon sources like automobiles make urban trees really effective at air-cleaning so much that they are comparable to rainforests.

Thank your local tree for making your air cleaner!

The UCL team used publicly available airborne lidar data collected by the UK Environment Agency, in conjunction with their ground measurements, to estimate biomass of all the 85,000 trees across Camden. These lidar measurements help to quantify the differences between urban and non-urban trees, allowing scientists to come up with a formula predicting the difference in size-to-mass ratio, and thus measuring the mass of urban trees more accurately.

The findings show that Camden has a median carbon density of around 50 tonnes of carbon per hectare (t/ha), rising to 380 t/ha in spots such as Hampstead Heath and Highgate Cemetery – that’s equivalent to values seen in temperate and tropical rainforests. Camden also has a high carbon density, compared to other cities in Europe and elsewhere. For example, Barcelona and Berlin have mean carbon densities of 7.3 and 11.2 t/ha respectively; major cities in the US have values of 7.7 t/ha and in China the equivalent figure is 21.3 t/ha.

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Using Drones to Plant Entire Forests

When drones are brought up in the news it’s usually because they are used to kill, here’s a story about drones bringing life. A company, BioCarbon Engineering, has demonstrated how to se drones to plant forests more efficiently than other methods.

It’s a rather simple process with incredibly complex software: send one drone to survey the planting site then send a second drone towrope seeds. The seeds will only be dropped in areas marked with good growth potential. Of course, this approach is a reaction to deforestation, it would be even more efficient to stop deforestation before it happens. Still, faster regrowth is better than slow to no regrowth of forests.

Here’s a video of the drones in operation:

The drones, from the startup BioCarbon Engineering, can plant as many as 100,000 trees in a single day, leaving the local community to focus on taking care of the young trees that have already started to grow. In September, the company will begin a drone-planting program in the area along with Worldview International Foundation, the nonprofit guiding local tree-planting projects. To date, the organization has worked with villagers to plant an area of 750 hectares, about twice the size of Central Park; the drones will help cover another 250 hectares with 1 million additional trees. Ultimately, the nonprofit hopes to use drones to help plant 1 billion trees in an even larger area.

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The Trump Forest

There’s a new forest growing and it’s spreading over the entire world – and you can help spread it. Trump Forest is more of an idea than a physical place, but it’s all about the physical. President Trump’s ignorance around climate change is apparent and will have disastrous impacts on the planet. As a result of this some enterprising New Zealanders decided to grow resistance to Trump – literally. The idea is to plant as many trees as needed to counteract Trump’s ignorance.

Trump Forest’s tagline is “where ignorance grows trees.” The original plan was to plant a tree for every time President Trump said the words “climate change,” but it quickly became apparent that this wouldn’t grow a forest: Trump has long refused to say the words, and, last week, the U.S. Department of Energy was barred from using the phrase “climate change,” along with “emissions reduction” and “Paris Agreement.”

Human civilization currently emits about 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. To avoid extreme climate change, where the average global temperature would rise by 4°C, emissions need to be reduced to 22 gigatons (or 22 billion tons) by 2050.

Researchers at Oxford University estimate that, if pursued at scale, reforestation and afforestation could sequester as much as 5.5 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere per year. So while planting trees is not enough to reverse climate change, it is a low-cost and effective act of resistance when coupled with other climate action efforts.

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