This is just the beginning. It’s the distillment of all my recent thoughts and, as such, is pure and simple and not a little profound.
Do we need it? Yes we do.
Can we do it? Yes we can. As someone once said!
Well, the direct inspiration is China and all she’s achieved so far. But, as a later article clearly demonstrates (China’s New Forests – leading the World to a Greener Future) it will not be enough and there has to be a far more substantial approach to the issue. Of all the wee saplings planted only five or ten percent will survive to maturity, so I’m cheating a wee bit, really – we’re talking of 500 billion growing to maturity. Later I’ll expand this topic and include all the facts and figures to support the proposition but I had to have an announcement, a launch for what is a great link through for the global community – animals, plants and us humans.
Five trillion trees – just rolls off the tongue, but it is, I accept, a
VERY BIG NUMBER.
At this point even I feel that I should justify it – so here goes:
We plant trees at a natural pioneer, colonising and successional concentration. Always we overplant. So the figure can be 2000 to 3000 per hectare, even if one sees the end forest as being more like, as I said above, 100 to 500 remaining on each hectare. This is an essential part of anyone’s planning and allows a natural selection to fine tune the eventual population.
So then we frame our goal area for re-forestation. My suggestions are based on the re-colonisation of principally marginal lands, lands holding subsistence agriculture or no agriculture save some grazing. It also includes land who’s fertility has been drained and which is now unable to re-establish any growth naturally – declining into desert through over grazing or inappropriate tilling and cropping eg with soil runoff or even wind blow. In the UK this is quite high – look at the moors and other uplands and, after resolving the peat issue, there’s around 15 percent of our landmass we could revert to forest and woodland.
Globally this becomes a reasonable norm, so a useful figure to take forward is a 40% increase in existing forest cover (ours, above, is more like 100%). Existing forest is around a round four billion hectares, so we’re talking 1.6 billion hectares of new forest. Another comparator country is, of course, China where they intend to increase their forest cover up to around 50% from as low as ours is now, that is 15%, so over 200% increase.
The impact of this, over up to a century, would be considerable reduction in the atmospheric carbon dioxide level – combating the ongoing and increasing use of fossil fuels and other industrial processes, land clearance and agricultural pollution.
My derived figure for the processes are as follows:
1.6 billion hectares new forest at 200 tonnes per hectare produces 320 BT forest mass. This is equivalent to 2/3 the mass of carbon dioxide, thus 480BT are fixed. At 8 tonnes carbon dioxide per part per million in atmosphere that would equal a reduction of sixty parts per million atmospheric carbon. Given future use of timber greatly increased there is much scope for this figure to carry on growing.
For now, though, these are sufficient to bring about a serious reversal to the current trend in fossil fuel carbon release.
1.6 billion hectares planted at 3000 trees per hectare is 4.8 trillion trees. Say Five Trillion just to be on the safe side, eh?
See – FIVE TRILLION TREES!