Afforestation is the most effective solution to the problem of global warming, according to Swiss researchers, who said that more than 900 million hectares of land could be planted worldwide, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions.
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in order to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius by the middle of the century, one billion hectares of trees should be planted worldwide – according to BBC News.
The authors of the study published in the scientific journal “Science” examined which areas of the planet could be planted and how many trees could be planted, and how the new forest areas would affect atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.
Experts from the Technical University of Zurich (ETH Zürich), using the method of photo interpretation and Google Earth map software, have found that, in addition to existing forests, agricultural and urban areas, there are around 0.9 billion hectares of land available for planting in the world.
According to experts, when these trees are fully developed, they will be able to absorb about 200 gigatons of carbon dioxide – that is, almost two-thirds of the harmful substances emitted by human activities since the Industrial Revolution – a quarter of the carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere.
“Our study clearly demonstrates that reforestation is currently the best solution available to us to tackle climate change,” said Tom Crowther, author of the study. He added: “If we act now, we can reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by as much as 25 percent, reaching a level that was almost a century ago.”
Researchers identified six countries as “focal points” for reforestation: Russia (151 million hectares), the United States (103 million hectares), Canada (78 million hectares), Australia (58 million hectares), Brazil (50 million hectares) and China ( 40 million hectares).
At the same time, professionals warn that the key is now fast, as the afforestable areas in the tropics run parallel to the planet’s warming.
“It is also crucial that we protect existing forest areas, take further climate protection measures and continuously reduce the use of fossil fuels,” Crowther stressed.
However, other researchers say the study is “too good to be true”. According to Myles Allen at Oxford University, reforestation is only one of the most effective strategies and is by no means the best solution to the problem of climate change, since it is far from reducing the emissions from fossil fuels to zero.
Others are overwhelming in their estimates of the carbon-absorbing capacity of planted trees.