- Afforestation – establishing a forest on land that was not previously forested – is one of the most effective ways to tackle climate change.
- Establishing sufficient tree cover to have a significant impact on rising temperatures will require a global effort.
- For maximum impact, reforestation initiatives should use green energy and involve the public.
Afforestation creates forest, especially on land that was not previously forested. It remains one of the most effective ways to tackle climate change, especially when designed to rely on green energy. This natural climate solution reduces the impact of desertification, supports ecosystems and removes CO2 from the atmosphere. It is a countermeasure against deforestation, which has contributed significantly to climate change in recent centuries.
Recently, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that 100 billion square meters of forest have been felled each year over the past decade, while tropical deforestation has contributed to 8 percent of global carbon emissions.
The role of afforestation in climate action
In its August 2021 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made it clear that deforestation is a direct cause of the increased presence of CO2 in the air over the past decade, an increase unmatched to any other period over the past two years. million years ago. Forests are carbon sinks; they recycle harmful carbon from the atmosphere and transform it into biomass through photosynthesis.
Afforestation can slow the impact of climate change while tackling other environmental issues, such as drylands and soil erosion. Crowther Lab research has shown that a trillion new trees could absorb a third of the CO2 emissions produced by humans. In fact, an additional 25 percent of forest area could absorb 25 percent of atmospheric carbon, which would have a significant impact on rising temperatures globally.
Afforestation needs international engagement
Establishing sufficient tree cover to have a significant impact on rising temperatures will require a global effort. Around the world, governments, the private sector and local communities have started to work on promising projects.
For example, 1t.org aims to grow a trillion trees with global communities, which would lead to the roughly 33% reduction in global emissions needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The organization strives to motivate, mobilize and enable private sector reforestation commitments by tailoring plans, offering crowdsourcing solutions and facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogues.
WeForest’s work is spread over three continents and twelve countries. Its vision is to create âa world where communities and nature thrive together in a sustainable wayâ. WeForest’s three-pronged approach includes integrating trees into farmland, planting at high density for ecological regeneration, and accelerating natural recovery of degraded land. In 2020, the organization protected and restored 160 million square meters of forest.
At Hanwha, our solar forest is a program that started ten years ago. It was cited at a general assembly of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in 2011 as the world’s first business project using solar energy to combat desertification. This initiative is different from its peers because it uses solar energy to power its nurseries. Solar energy supports the supply of clean water, temperature and humidity control, and the lighting conditions necessary to nourish young trees, creating a carbon neutral forest. Since the start of the program in 2011, it has created eight forests in South Korea, China and Mongolia and has led to the planting of half a million trees over 1.33 million square meters, or the equivalent to 180 football pitches.
The program also encourages public engagement: people can plant virtual trees using an app, and in return, Hanwha plants real trees in vulnerable areas. 15,000 trees were planted in the 8e Solar forest during the pandemic – meaning an additional 162 tonnes of CO2 will be absorbed each year once the carbon neutral forest reaches maturity.
Ironically, the job of planting trees – including watering, seasonal climate control, and general maintenance – can depend heavily on fossil fuels. To reach their full potential, it is therefore important that reforestation initiatives use green energy. The private sector, governments and the public must design green initiatives to go net-zero, shifting from the use of fossil fuels to green energy sources.
Another important area of ââinterest is public engagement, as it serves to amplify climate action efforts. Presenting simple and accessible projects to the public empowers people with achievable and realistic means to take action. After COP26, we must work together to ensure that the trees and forests they inhabit are replenished and planted conscientiously in order to maintain momentum towards a greener future.