By Halima Imam
Planting a tree is a bit like raising a child, both require lots of patience, hard work, and a willingness to get your hands a bit dirty sometimes. But while kids eventually move out to start their own families or live as they please, trees stay rooted in place, providing shade, oxygen, and a place for squirrels to stash their nuts or for birds to build their nests.
They are often referred to as the lungs of the earth, and for good reason too. They play a crucial role in sustaining life on our planet, providing a wide range of environmental, social, and economic benefits. Yet, despite their importance, trees are disappearing at an alarming rate, with devastating consequences for our planet and its inhabitants.
So why is tree planting so important important?
Climate Change Mitigation
Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. According to the United Nations, global tree planting efforts could remove up to two-thirds of all human-made carbon emissions, making reforestation one of the most effective tools we have for mitigating climate change. By planting trees, we can help to reduce the impact of climate change, slow the rate of global warming, and create a more sustainable future.
Forests are home to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, including countless species of plants, animals, and insects. Trees provide habitat, food, and protection for these species, and their loss threatens the delicate balance of ecosystems around the world. By planting trees, we can help to preserve biodiversity and protect the millions of species that depend on forests for survival.
Trees help to prevent soil erosion and improve soil quality by holding soil in place with their roots, and providing nutrients as leaves decompose. They also help to regulate water levels, preventing flooding and ensuring a reliable water supply. By planting trees, we can help to prevent soil erosion, improve soil quality, and protect water resources.
Forests provide valuable resources such as timber, non-timber forest products, and medicinal plants, as well as supporting tourism, agriculture, and other industries. The global value of forest products and services is estimated to be worth over $5 trillion annually. By planting trees, we can help to create new economic opportunities, support sustainable industries, and improve the livelihoods of communities around the world.
Global Tree Planting Efforts
Despite the importance of trees, the world is losing them at an alarming rate. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world lost 420 million hectares of forest between 1990 and 2020, an area larger than the size of India. Deforestation continues at a rate of 10 million hectares per year, with devastating consequences for the environment and the communities that depend on them.
To address this issue, the world has seen a surge in global tree planting efforts in recent years. In 2019, the United Nations launched the “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration” to support global efforts to restore degraded ecosystems and combat climate change. As part of this initiative, the UN aims to plant 1 trillion trees by 2030, a target supported by numerous countries and organizations around the world.
In addition to these efforts, there are countless local and regional tree planting initiatives taking place around the world. In Ethiopia, for example, a government-led initiative has planted over 4 billion trees since 2019, making it one of the largest reforestation efforts in history.
In the United States, organizations such as the Arbor Day Foundation have planted over 350 million trees since their founding in 1972. According to Ecosia, the Great Green Wall has planted over 15,117,046 trees and 14,137 ha (34,930 acres) were restored in Burkina Faso in Senegal it planted over 1,424,748 and restored 300 ha (740 acres) and planted over 9,963,757 trees and restored 3,609 ha (8,920 acres) in Ethiopia as of September 2021.
The importance of tree planting cannot be overstated. Trees provide countless benefits to the environment, society, and the economy, and their loss threatens the very survival of our planet.
As global efforts to combat climate change and protect our natural resources continue, tree planting will play an increasingly important role in ensuring a sustainable future for all.
We all have a role to play in this effort, and by planting trees in our communities and supporting global reforestation efforts, we can make a difference for our planet and generations to come.
*Halima Imam writes from firstname.lastname@example.org