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Carbon Removal Method

Forestation

Forestation simply means the planting of trees over a wide area. Forests act as the lungs of Earth by drawing down CO₂ and releasing life-sustaining oxygen into the atmosphere, while simultaneously conferring a multitude of other ecosystem benefits.

Forestation

Introduction

Forestry is a proven, scalable, low-cost solution that utilises the power of trees. Forests all over the world take up carbon at differing levels, and in order to be considered carbon removal, new trees must be planted.

Forestation projects can provide co-benefits like livelihoods, biodiversity, or aid in food systems—but, when misused lead to mono-cropping or biodiversity reduction. So, they must be planned carefully to contribute towards fighting our climate goals.

Method overview

Different types of forestation

There are three main types of forestation approaches: afforestation, reforestation, and agroforestry. Each approach involves planting new trees, but they differ slightly in their implementation. We explain these differences below.

Afforestation

Afforestation is the practice of creating new forests by introducing trees to previously non-forested areas. Land lost to desertification, disused agricultural and industrial areas, and land degraded from overgrazing is all suitable for afforestation projects.

Reforestation

Reforestation involves replanting or naturally regenerating trees in areas that have been affected by natural disasters such as wildfires or droughts, as well as man-made disturbances like logging, mining, and agricultural clearing.

Agroforestry

Agroforestry is the intentional incorporation of trees and shrubs into agriculture. The two most common approaches to this are growing crops (silvo-arable) or pasture for consumption by animals (silvo-pastoral) beneath and in between trees.

Capture & Storage

How it works

Photosynthesis

The sequestration of carbon by shrubs and trees is facilitated by photosynthesis. Trees take up water from the soil and absorb CO₂ from the atmosphere. Using energy from the sun, a green pigment called chlorophyll converts the water and CO₂ to oxygen and glucose. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere, for all organisms to breathe, and the glucose goes on to nourish the growing tree.

How forests store carbon

The glucose produced during photosynthesis is used to build biomass such as wood, branches, roots, and leaves. On a dry weight basis, this biomass is approximately 50% carbon and thus, forests represent a huge carbon storage potential. This carbon is safely stored until decomposition or combustion of the biomass occurs.

Factors influencing carbon storage in trees

The amount of carbon a tree can store depends on many factors, such as species, age, climatic conditions, wood density, and soil conditions. Therefore, the climate impact of any singular tree varies greatly depending on its geographic location. For example, tropical forests collectively draw down more carbon than temperate and boreal forests combined.

WHY USE THIS METHOD

A proven, scalable, low-cost solution

The time to act is now, and forests are one of a handful of carbon dioxide removal technologies that are ready to be deployed on a large scale at a relatively low cost. While they are not a silver bullet solution to the climate emergency, they can contribute considerably. In addition to their climate impact, forests provide billions of dollars worth of ecosystem services each year.

EVALUATION

Climate Impact

48
Points out of 100

(median score)
EVALUATION

Climate Impact

There are almost one billion additional hectares suitable for forestation worldwide. Two-thirds of anthropogenic carbon emissions created since the Industrial Revolution could be captured by this amount of trees. While forestation is capable of removing CO₂ from the atmosphere on a gigaton scale each year at relatively low cost, issues still exist regarding the permanence of these removals.

It should be kept in mind that trees are ultimately only a temporary storage vessel for CO₂ and forestation should ideally be used in tandem with more permanent removal technologies.

48

Median score

93

Minimum score

97

Maximum score

5

Count

36 data points
EVALUATION

Co-Benefits

73
Points out of 100

(median score)
EVALUATION

Co-Benefits

Forests act as the home to approximately 80% of the world’s biodiversity. This biodiversity is the web of life and without it, our collective health and livelihoods are at risk. Additionally, forests purify the air we breathe, prevent catastrophic natural disasters by stabilizing soils, and ensure a clean and reliable supply of water, while simultaneously preventing flooding.

Around the globe, societies have also placed huge aesthetic, recreational, and spiritual value on forests. Not to mention the upwards of 60 million jobs worldwide associated with forest management.

73

Median score

23

Minimum score

52

Maximum score

11

Count

36 data points
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