2.02 - Where are trees most needed?
To fight Climate Change and deforestation, the tropical zone is the most suitable planting location. But trees have so many benefits, for the environment and for people, that it is necessary to look beyond carbon and understand their specific benefits in each region. Providing the species selection for a project is well aligned with the project's mission, almost all regions can benefit from having more trees.
The Tropical zone (the area in between the 2 tropics) is where trees receive the most sunlight and where natural conditions are ideal for trees to grow. Therefore this is where trees can capture maximum CO2 and at the fastest rate. At the same time this is where rainforests host about 85% of all terrestrial species. This is also where we have the most deforestation, threatening many species on the brink extinction.
Other regions with arid or desert climates are not ideal for capturing CO2 however planting trees in those regions can play a significant role in avoiding malnutrition and famines. Tree species with deep root system excel in fighting desertification.
In Europe or the US, there is no imminent threat of deforestation, in fact there are more trees every year. Here, trees grow at a slower pace making these regions less of a priority in the fight against climate change. But other threats loom like our dramatic loss of insects (read the Insect Apocalypse) giving us strong reasons to plant there and to promote agroforestry as a more sustainable way to handle our agriculture.
Some specific regions pop up in the news because of forest fires, like Brazil or Australia. It is important to plant there too (we do) but while the media buzz focuses on the urgency and quickly vanishes once the fire cycle stops, it is essential to understand those problems require long-term solutions and continuous dedication.
Why the tropics explained in 3 graphs:
Nowadays, thanks to strong laws to protect forests in developed countries, the problem of deforestation has moved to the tropics. There, political infrastructure is often too weak to provide adequate control of their forests.
85% of our terrestrial biodiversity live in the tropics and are therefore threatened by deforestation, with many species on the brink of extinction.
People living in the tropical zone have some of the lowest incomes which means 2 things:
1. They don't have the financial or political resources to tackle the Deforestation problem by themselves.
2. Planting trees there will provide them with better sources of income, thus tackling a social problem at the same time as an environmental one.