Tree-planting, meaning the act of planting a tree, is a popular way to climate compensate. Trees can bind CO2, one of the greenhouse gases that lead to global warming. Tree planting can therefore compensate for private or public emissions. Furthermore, it is common within sustainable marketing. Slogans such as “a tree planted for every purchase” are typical today.
The benefits of trees
As mentioned, trees bind CO2. Another word for this is “carbon sink”. This function is why forests are essential for the Earth’s climate. More so, planting trees improves the soil. Particularly if it is damaged, as it has been in many places due to industrialised agriculture. Tree planting can also work against problems with erosion, which is when the ground is broken down and carried away by the wind, water or ice. Trees are also helpful for biodiversity, which is currently under threat.
However, when planting trees, it is crucial to choose species that are familiar with the environment where they live. In other words, trees that survive in a particular climate. More so, one should not rely on only planting trees. As it is equally necessary to protect existing forests and work against deforestation.
Furthermore, trees provide more benefits than sequestering CO2 and making air. They also come with social benefits for people. For example, trees can provide livelihoods for families by providing fruits for food and selling. Timber and food for animals can also come from trees.
Tree planting as a climate compensation
Planting trees as a climate compensation has met some criticism. For example, the positive effect lasts only as long as the tree is alive. Hence much of the CO2 captured is released if the tree gets cut down. Therefore, some argue that planting trees should be considered a way to buy time while the tree acts as a carbon sink. This bought time is valuable as the current amount of CO2 needs to decrease drastically due to climate change.
As mentioned, many companies and organisations use tree planting to compensate for their emissions. More so, tree-planting projects often also help poorer communities. The problem with these kinds of efforts is long-term sustainability. It is not only about planting trees but also about taking care of them for many years afterwards. For example, communities have struggled to keep trees alive due to a lack of sufficient information and support.