Reforestation can go wrong: some golden rules for effective reforestation

Nepal reforestation

COMMENT AND NEWS: The desire by governments in any country to reforest their landscape because it has been deforested for commercial reasons is admirable as it is designed to curb global warming because trees absorb carbon dioxide. Global warming damages nature, wildlife and the lives of people as well. It is perhaps the biggest pressing problem that humankind faces (after it has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic!). The trouble is that when you plant trees en masse it can go wrong and you can actually end up with harming wildlife. A good example is Madagascar where they instigated large-scale reforestation in the 1980s using non-native species such as red silky oak from Australia.

Nepal reforestation

Nepal reforestation. Photo: Twitter and as per the photo (bottom left).

The native species living in Madagascar were unfamiliar with the species of tree and therefore they suffered. Further, because trees were planted land had to be cleared to make space for farming. And in an act of madness in my opinion the trees were planted so that they could be chopped down for firewood! I think we can conclude that the Madagascar government are not enlightened or thinking clearly. Thailand has engaged in reforestation too. Nepal reforestation is shown below.

Boris Johnson, in the UK, has vowed to plant at the rate of 30,000 hectors annually by 2025 to help combat climate change. I hope that he reads this article! He won’t but he should at least read the article in The Times newspaper upon which this post is based. I am sure his partner Carrie Symonds will lead him in the right direction.

The newspaper provides 10 golden rules for tree planting on a large scale i.e. reforestation. They are as follows:

  1. Protect existing forests first. A reference to the Madagascar disaster it seems to me;
  2. Local people should be involved in treeplanting projects. I presume this is to obtain their approval and commitment to the project;
  3. Maximise biodiversity recovery to meet multiple goals;
  4. Ensure that you select the right place for reforestation;
  5. Ensure that you use natural forest regrowth whenever possible;
  6. The right tree species should be selected to maximise biodiversity;
  7. The tree selected should be resilient to adapting to climate change;
  8. Plan ahead;
  9. Learn through action;
  10. Make it pay.

My thanks to The Times. Great paper by the way. I buy it daily and read it cover to cover.