According to research published in the journal Science, a worldwide tree planting program that does not encroach on existing agricultural land or urban areas could remove two thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities over the past 200 years.
Excluding existing trees and agricultural and urban areas, the study found that there is room for an extra 0.9 billion hectares of canopy cover, which could store 205 gigatonnes of carbon in areas that would naturally support woodlands and forests.
The researchers measured the amount of the tree cover shown in 80,000 high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth.
They then used artificial intelligence computing to combine that data with 10 key soil, topography and climate factors to create a global map of where trees could grow.
Their analysis showed about 2/3 of the Earth’s land mass — about 8.7 billion hectares — are capable of supporting forests. 5.5 billion hectares are already forested and 1.5 billion hectares are used for growing food, which leaves 1.7 billion hectares in other areas.
However only planting trees is not enough.
Concurrent with the reforestration program, a dramatic decrease in new emissions will be required as well, since the planting process will take 50 to 100 years to fully sequester the projected 205 gigatons of carbon dioxide suggested by the study.
Tree planting is “a climate change solution that doesn’t require governments approval or scientists to come up with technological solutions.
“It is available now, it is the cheapest one possible, and every one of us can get involved.”
Reference- Clean Technica, Science Journal, The Guardian