can planting a trillion trees save us from climate change?

can planting a trillion trees save us from climate change?

restoration of the earth’s forests may be the world’s most effective solution to climate change according to a new study published by the crowther lab of ETH zurich. the researchers — who investigate nature-based solutions to climate change — have mapped places around the world where new trees could grow and how much carbon they would store.

can planting a trillion trees save us from climate change? designboom
total land for forest
(main) image by jachan devol
(above) image by ETH zurich



the researchers at ETH zurich calculated that under the current climate conditions, earth’s land could support 4.4 billion hectares of continuous tree cover. that would be 1.6 billion more than the currently existing 2.8 billion hectares. once these forests reach maturity, they could store 205 billion tonnes of carbon — about two thirds of the 300 billion tonnes of carbon that has been released in the atmosphere as a result of human activity since the industrial revolution.

can planting a trillion trees save us from climate change? designboom
land for reforestation



‘we all knew that restoring forests could play a part in tackling climate change, but we didn’t really know how big the impact would be,’ comments prof. thomas crowther, co-author of the study and founder of the crowther lab at ETH zurich. ‘our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today. but we must act quickly, as new forests will take decades to mature and achieve their full potential as a source of natural carbon storage.’


the study also exhibits which parts of the world are most suited for forest restoration — russia (151 million hectares); the US (103 million hectares); canada (78.4 million hectares); australia (58 million hectares); brazil (49.7 million hectares); and china (40.2 million hectares).

  • There is hope. Ethiopia planted 350 million trees in one day and plans to plant 4 billion! 996 billion to go. Get busy everyone organizing the worldwide effort.

    Willi Vision
  • i say let everyone who has land begin now. I just planted two trees in my backyard. Where could you plant a tree? At your child’s school, or at your church, maybe at your cabin. Lets start now; lets get to it – NOW Where could your city plant trees – lobby them…lets plant trees

    paule guerard
  • I agree to planting more trees. More trees means more CO2 being naturally processed to separate carbon from oxygen. But it will not save the planet though. The Earth is heating up because of the elliptical orbit of the Earth being much closer to the sun. Much worse, according to astronomers, the sun is increasing in size. Well, time for Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to step up with their rockets and and make the human race an inter-stellar being.

    Tung Cab
  • In Brazil this will not happen. Forests are being substituted by cattle production and soybeans.

    Hugo Massato Otsuki
  • Seems like a simple plan, but it will require a ton of management, not to mention the proper irrigation systems to sustain these trees, however, it seems to me the more feasible than other options

  • I’m a man that loves nature, I love this planet and I’m angry with industrialisation that is killing nature. I think this is a good idea planting millions of trees to save our planet. This should start immediately. Thanks for thinking for my planet.

  • In what way is this feasible, let alone “cost effective”? To make a difference these one trillion trees would need to be in the ground soon. Let’s say we start on January 1, 2020. Based on my back of the envelope calculations, this means planting more than 30,000 trees per second through 2020. This is also over 100 million trees per hour, so perhaps we can find a million people to plant 100 trees per hour 365/24, or maybe 3 million people if we allow shifts. Of course, this needs to be a coordinated international effort. Good luck with that. Keep pulling this thread and it becomes clear that this plan has a long way to go! It is certainly not an alternative to something like national carbon pricing with a border adjustment. I can’t imagine that even the fossil fuel industry could have come up with a better distraction.

    John L. Keller

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