More trees, please………

This is like proceedings of a select international conference and is a follow up to the series of articles which arose in similar circumstances two years ago. It’s a global sampler of interested and interesting participants, responding to an article which I will repost verbatim after this discussion. This piece has stretched out from pre Christmas 2013 to mid January 2014, and is a good snap-shot update.

It’s raw, unedited as yet, but I may well comb through it at a later date.


Michael Furniss Owner at MJ Furniss & Associates

True enough, but I do not recall anyone saying that reforestation or avoided deforestation will do the whole job. We should do what we can. Pointing up problems with REDD+ and other forest carbon offset strategies is easy and popular, but I do not recall anyone saying it would be easy. How about solutions, rather than piling on the problems and naysaying? Foresters should be pushing for solutions IMO, not demonstrating their knowledge by hawking the shortcomings over and over, and presenting the not-yet-fully-solved problems as somehow being fatal flaws.

Erik van Lennep Ecological Counsel at Circle Square Foundation

@Michael Furniss, I agree with you. Why are we so obsessed with “silver bullet” solutions, when we only have evidence they never provide real answers? The world is a complex organism, and its systems share and reflect that complexity. Simple fixes never fix.Instead of slamming one element of a pattern for not delivering the whole picture, we need to apply our critical analysis to determining what’s missing, and to fine-tuning the overall strategy.

Nathan Nicholas field technichian at free growing forestry

the other benefits of good forestry practices, such as stabilize topsoil, bio-diversity, stability of employment must be factored in.

scott keller project developer at Reforest the Tropics, INC. and Environmental Services Consultant

Has anyone heard of the Carbon Zero Fuel Project?

It’s fossil fuel that’s carbon offset with a new sustainable farm forest planting on cattle pasture. There’s a donation per gallon that is given when fossil fuel is purchased.

With donations, Reforest The, a non-profit, works with participating farmers to reforest cattle pastures, sequester carbon, and reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases. These forests are designed to be profitable for farmers by producing wood to sell, providing a sustainable income and the forests are highly effective at sequestering/capturing and storing CO2 emissions for sponsors.

Andrew Tolfts  Green Deal Officer at West Sussex County Council

Quite right, can’t offset carbon emissions with reafforestation but it can buy a little time (a few decades) if a truely huge level of planting was attained. More than offset emissions due to current forest degredation and destruction. And by using sustainable grown timber as a fuel and for building materials more of the fossil fuels can stay in the ground.

Joseph Pallant Business Development Associate at Pacific Carbon Trust

There was a UN Special Report on Climate Change from 2000 that points out a full third of anthropogenic GHG emissions between 1850 and 1998 were from land use change, primarily deforestation. Current annual rates from land use change are in the 15-20% range.

One could ponder a simple takeaway that 33% of the net global anthropogenic GHG debt should be targeted by restoration, and a further 15-20% annual deficit can be addressed by REDD+.

Dirk Brinkman CEO at Brinkman & Associates Reforestation Ltd

By Bali in 2007 it was already too late for reduced emissions alone to avoid catastrophic climate change. President Susalito BamBang opened his COP 15 by saying “what the world needs is less emissions, more sinks.” It was a hair raising moment for those of us who recognized that this may never be put more succinctly.

Reforestation had been certified in 2004 as a climate action, but it was stumbling over the long investment time before getting returns and being excluded from the largest market, the ETS, by EU enviro’s who wanted Germany to shift to LNG from coal, before offsetting emissions with reforestation. In Warsaw in 2013, REDD+, with its more instant gratification from stopping emissions tomorrow, is now also a certified climate action. Soil, ecosystem and wetland restoration have also joined the climate action pantheon for land manager through various voluntary standards. We had the privilege of developing the first methodologies for each of these three, of opening the matrix of tools to afford the professional forester, ecologist or agrologist the funding to intervene in the flow of change possible on their local landscape.

Still, farmers and foresters who have worked their fingers to the bone as price takers, whip-lashed by middlemen like Georgia chicken farmers, have to stand together on the edge of this precipitous new market, to avoid being piped like lemmings by the inevitable scoundrels attracted to the rural regions. Perhaps this is the most interesting problem of all.

Chris Hemmings OC Five Trillion Trees – Universal Industrial Offset Mechanism

Very pleased to see the earlier posts, pretty much all; saying “Yes but this must be a major pert of the overall solution” Ever the referenced article says it, albeit reluctantly:

“”But an erroneous assumption is that re-planting forests or creating tree pastures quickly offset carbon levels in the atmosphere. Neither of these approaches are viable solutions, according to the international team. Reforestation of areas affected by land-use would reduce atmospheric CO2 by 40–70 parts-per-million by the end of the century. “”

If we took back into forestry land which is marginal and worse we would hit the higher end of that span, ie 60 to 70 ppm reduction by fixation into forests. This is a major target for Global Restoration working and is becoming clear as essential not optional, and not only to fight climate change as biodiversity, ecological connectivity and human sanity are equally valid drivers.

By following this route the additional fall out is to discourage anything other than active forest management, whereby there is never felling without substantial replanting, and clear felling is avoided like the plague.

Terry Halligan Director at ERS Emission Recovery Solutions Inc

So the new consensus would be that we need to ignore the solutions that are expensive, minimally effective and to far out on the time horizon. We do know what will work quickly and effectively. After the global financial crisis in 2008, GHG emissions fell back until recently. It would suggest that a permanent halt of economic expansion and the resulting downward pressure on consumption which would exacerbate the GDP decline be the only course.

Investment in alternatives, emissions recovery through improved efficiencies and new technology on avoidance are far too expensive, individually produce small impacts and will take to long for widespread implementation.

Or we could fully appreciate the impact our historical activities have had on the world, recognize all of the potential solutions, small and large, long term and short, cheap and costly and simply get down to it now.

Don Willis Global Forestry Product Manager at Jiffy Products of America

Reading the comments its clear that moving forward is a necessity, unfortunately, different Governments, businesses, individuals, et cetera are tripping over each other causing further delays, and needed finances get eaten up in administration by the delays of process. As mentioned by Dirk and a few others, implied, the land base exists to reforest, afforestation, agroforestry, reclamation, restoration or rehabilitation depending on your flavour of “regeneration”. Combined plantings of trees with Native Plants/shrubs, etc can have a larger impact per hectare towards the desired goal of carbon emissions. The land owners, the local people or communities, have the greatest power to act as one source at any one given point in time, they just need the right motivating factor. As these people watch governments disagree and not come to any consensus or positive actions, the people will so choose not to believe as well. Local communities, villages, cities, tribes and individual people can grow their own plants to plant, they are not dependent on a commercial source to get the plants needed. What they need is trusted direction and confidence, not to worry about what could wrong, as moving forward and doing something is the right action without fear. Doing nothing and continuing the discussion is just bad fungi on composting words. Not only does it taste bad but anyone can smell a lie. The simple action is getting started, as we are no where close in forest cover compared to when human civilization decided to start cutting trees for whatever reason. We know the end goal. You have to get started, learn from past practices and keep moving forward. Do not reinvent the wheel. Compared to 10 years back obtaining relevant information was slow, compared to today when information placed on the internet in one year/month exceeds what was available in decades. The information is there, but so is the fear (not to mention politics). Human compassion and the will to make change exists largely in our population. This is the power needed to move forward and to harness (and as Dirk mentioned, keep the “inevitable scoundrels” out).

David Derbowka Owner, Passive Remediation Systems Ltd

So Don..

I happen to agree with your words and thought. I am sure I could not have said it better. I do have to add: small is good. Small is so much better than nothing. Small includes more participation. Small is so very doable. Small keeps out the scoundrels. And small is; yes, a big job.

Alterra Hetzel Forest Carbon Business Development Manager at The Conservation Fund

Agreement all around. What if the worst thing that happens is we protect wildlife, biodiversity, clean the water, retain the soil, boost recreation, boost economy, etc etc? And, of course, sequester carbon. It must be part of the solution. And I, for one, would like to leave my children some forests. It must be part (not all) of the solution.

Kevin Morgan Currently the endorsed Palmer United Candidate for Braddon

Most discussions and expectancies are around a Top Down Approach where we expect Government to lead us on this issue.

We have seen Governments in, out, heading in reverse.

Reversing this with individual people and groups starting and delivering in their own ways can start the ball rolling and if PEOPLE POWER gets strong enough Governments and lobbyists who have their own agenda will have only one way to go.

David Derbowka above has spoken on the small steps, I will add that a lot of small steps soon leads to larger ones as the momentum builds.

A “Bottom Up Approach” moves from a rustling of the leaves on the ground to a cyclone or tornado ” IF PEOPLE POWER OWNS IT”.

Achieving the right balance but moving forward is far better than heading in reverse.

Carlo Castellani Environmental Services Professional

The concept that doing something is better than nothing is a moral/religious one; it is not a rational one (it could even work negatively; e.g. biofuel demand favours deforestation). If I know that what I do is not enough to solve the problem, better I stop and use my energy to look for a better solution. Reforesting while deforestation goes on unabated makes only the interest of the plantations business.

Alex French Graduate Student

When taking a class on climate change we came across this simple carbon budget applet from the University of Wisconsin where you can play with variables for emissions as well as carbon sinks and then see the estimated temperature by the end of the century:

It would be optimistic to assume that by the middle of the century fossil emissions can start to level off and then begin to drop slightly by the end of the century (following the “Kuznets curve” pattern for pollution). Even with this optimistic scenario it’s estimated to come out to a 2.5 degree Celsius increase by the end of the century from 1990 levels. It’s only when you address deforestation emissions as well as the potential for sequestration from landscapes/reforestation that the temperature in the model peaks below the IPCC estimated threshold of 2 degrees Celsius.

So I agree that reforestation can’t offset massive fossil fuel emissions but I do believe that it is the margin that can prevent the climate system from collapsing in a best case scenario.

David Derbowka Owner, Passive Remediation Systems Ltd

Is not growth, or utilization of sun power naturally more effective or efficient than a solar voltaic cell? Manufacturing footprint is eliminated for one thing. Then full recovery of the stored energy done through growth, makes sense to me. (“forest storage cell”) I think we already have the ability to utilize bio-mass cleanly via various methods. Not for a second am I bashing solar cells for energy production. But a more thoughtful, (on the big picture) method of cycles in forestry, man made perhaps, might be some partial input regarding our attempts to retrieve planet health. I believe the ignorance and/or apathy, (in this country anyway), is the cause of hollowing our economic energy production opportunity in this field.

Alterra Hetzel Forest Carbon Business Development Manager at The Conservation Fund

@carlo – I read your comment and nearly fell off my unicorn! 🙂 Rationally speaking, where and how shall we all be focused? The key to what you said was “is not enough.” Therefore, what is? What is the affordable and available silver bullet? I would argue that a rational person would focus on the area in which they can. A rational person would argue that just because they can’t fix a problem all together does not mean they should not try at all within the capacity they can. And, PS – I personally would never advocate for a bio-fuel demand that (again) puts the lives of wildlife and trees as expendable in the name of energy. Rationally speaking.

Carlo Castellani Environmental Services Professional

Alterra, good questions; I also would like to get some logical answer from the expert on climate change (I am not). Anyway I seem that my concept of a rational person is far away from yours: trying to solve a problem means doing it with a strategy, project or any kind of rational idea that, whatever simplistic or primitive is hoped to produce a solution (victory) to the problem. The kind of patchwork proposed by the experts is not expected to produce any sensible change on climate trends (their conclusions, not mine!). Throwing stones against a powerful enemy or sacrificing a lamb to soften the god’s anger is no solution but a stupid way to satisfy the social need of showing to the tribe that one does something for the common welfare. If I can’t find the way to win my enemy I’ll try to ally with it or develop a plan to make its dominion as tolerable as possible. That’s the theory.

Practically all the initiatives undertaken in the past years have produced no results; billions having been spent in bla bla and the like. Whatever you or I advocate bio-fuel demand has favored and is favoring deforestation and increase in food prices (affecting the poorest). Facts.

Andrew Tolfts Green Deal Officer at West Sussex County Council

Carlo, you say: “Whatever you or I advocate bio-fuel demand has favored and is favoring deforestation and increase in food prices (affecting the poorest). Facts.”


But even if it has led to deforestation in the past it doen’t have to in the future. And what type of biofuel are you talking about? You may be damning all for the sins of the few. Surely conversion to agriculture, timber mining and conflict are much greater drivers for deforestation.

Nathan Nicholas field technichian at free growing forestry

I think Carlo was speaking of Palm oil bio fuel which is a worse case scenario, where as something like wood pellet fuel is much closer to carbon neutral.We must not forget that trees serve climates locally as well as globally with immediate effects such as cleaning storing rainwater, slowing snow melt, locally cooling the ground beneath them. I think much of the Resistance to carbon offset forestry is from people who cant wrap their minds around the idea of long term planning and intergenarational , rather than quarterly profits.

Michael Furniss Owner at MJ Furniss & Associates

Good news on REDD+

“ U.N. agrees multi-billion dollar framework to tackle deforestation “

Carlo Castellani Environmental Services Professional

Andrew, do you want me wasting a couple of minutes on the internet to look for evidence of the existence of biofuel plantations? Or even worse that such a market is subsidized by those governments saying they want to protect the planet? Do you need evidence of what [“conversion to agriculture”] you admit to be a “much greater drivers for deforestation”? Where do you live? When I get out of my farm in central Italy I see fields once devoted to food crops now covered with solar cells; my cousin heats his place burning corn seeds. This is happening in the present, due to initiatives taken in the past, within a policy that I don’t see how it should change in the future; I would like evidence of such a kind of changes of route (you mention for the future), implemented in the field, not in air-conditioned UN meeting rooms!. I am not damning the use of biofuels; if you read what I wrote, I’m damning those that favor deforestation. I am in favor of the use of agriculture by-products, of firewood from sustainable use of natural forests, etc.

David Derbowka Owner, Passive Remediation Systems Ltd

Carlo, Where do I start? Your points are well understood. You and I both favor bio-fuels of some sort. I think considering problems as opportunity and considering some nasty mess’s as a resource, the picture can clear up a bit. The sun will keep shining and the Earth will revolve as usual, I think, is a fair assumption. Do we know what’s the most efficient form of energy production; solar voltaic cells or greenery growth? It’s interesting what new direction will happen as we learn fossil fuel as energy, is just about an unethical choice for planet health issues. Sun power is an adaptable option on much of Earth’s face. I see an increase in land mass worldwide with a garbage dump underneath. I identify many of those methane emitting stench holes as a place for a forest. In fact, “Everyone’s Park” used as a revolving bio-mass producer seems Earth friendly to me. Send me your email if you want so I can send you my video explaining what is being done and what I dream may be a part of the change needed on Earth. I do ISO accredited reporting in my jurisdiction to account carbon sequestered. This is where we might like to start a discussion…

Alen Berta project manager in natural resources division, GIS analyst at Oikon – Institute for applied ecology

that is true… reforestation alone can not offset all CO2 emission, it must be only part of solution. Example is my small country, Croatia; to offset all CO2 emissions we should have 3 million hectares of high yield forests, but we have only about 1 million hectares.

So we should reforest 2 million hectares of land (and wait them to be fully grown), and whole country is 4,5 million hectares big.

As you can imagine, it is not possible, so we must reduce CO2 emission while we are stopping deforestation and conducting reforestation.

Michael Dutschke Owner of biocarbon consult

The question is, what do we need energy for? Producing energy will always sacrifice other goods. The problem started with a linear economy, carving it’s way through known resources, ignoring all the unexplored opportunities and leaving behind barren land. Fighting back in a linear manner means slowing down economic development and breaking up into a different direction, which eventually will crash against the next boundary. It’s obvious, even the most benign activities, like tree-planting, will harm the environment, if they are sustained against all odds. Therefore, we need a new cyclical, systemic paradigm that consists of making use of many more resources than we currently know, and only to the extend they can be renewed, while considering their interactions. Nowadays, mankind has a much higher capacity in dealing with complexities than it had 25 years ago. And also, put to work the experience and creativity of all humans, not just the happy billion.

Chris Hemmings OC Five Trillion Trees – Universal Industrial Offset Mechanism

Trouble is, the “we must do this but also cut carbon use” tactic falls into the chasm of lack of clarity. How much should we do? Then the crass carbon market stepped in and now seems to work against reforestation.

I push for a century of Restoration, to convert marginal lands to living, sustained ecological buffer zones, harboring not just carbon but also species, habitats and the crucial contiguancies needed for meaningful ecological custodianship. This has to be a global endeavor and should be seen as “Climate Action Plus”.

Erik van Lennep Ecological Counsel at Circle Square Foundation

Yes!! This is the century we have to reconnect all the pieces we tore apart the past two hundred years and more. And today is the day we must evolve our thinking and our rhetoric from sustainability toward regeneration in all things. The cool thing about this, is that anytime we shift phases or states, energy is released. And economies are based upon such energy flows. So by shifting to a regenerative paradigm, new economies are born.

Much of the pain now being felt in the “crash” is related to attempts to cling on to a dying paradigm. No wonder it feels so bad! Let’s stop the necrophilia and move on.

David Okul Forestry Consultant at Karen Blixen Camp

While promoting indigenous tree and shrub planting in the Mara, Kenya, I am always asked if it is really necessary. Well, I keep my answer simple in regards to Carbon forestry ” The major GHG is carbon dioxide, plants absorb carbon dioxide while growing, and woody plants are big and have a longer lifespan (compared to other plants) so they must be reducing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere!”.

I think tree planting should be encouraged all over the world

About greencentre

Non grant supported hence independent scientist, green activist, writer and forest planter.
This entry was posted in Carbon economics, Carbon market, Carbon sinks, Climate politics, Development issues, Green politics,, Greenhouse gases and climate change, New forests and woodland, REDD+. Bookmark the permalink.

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