Damian Carrington, THE GUARDIAN
Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.
As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”.
The analysis found there are 1.7bn hectares of treeless land on which 1.2tn native tree saplings would naturally grow. That area is about 11% of all land and equivalent to the size of the US and China combined. Tropical areas could have 100% tree cover, while others would be more sparsely covered, meaning that on average about half the area would be under tree canopy.
The scientists specifically excluded all fields used to grow crops and urban areas from their analysis. But they did include grazing land, on which the researchers say a few trees can also benefit sheep and cattle.
Let nature heal climate and biodiversity crises, say campaigners
“This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said Prof Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who led the research. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”
Crowther emphasised that it remains vital to reverse the current trends of rising greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and forest destruction, and bring them down to zero. He said this is needed to stop the climate crisis becoming even worse and because the forest restoration envisaged would take 50-100 years to have its full effect of removing 200bn tonnes of carbon.
Read more at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/planting-billions-trees-best-tackle-climate-crisis-scientists-canopy-emissions
Eillie Anzilotti, FAST COMPANY
Toilet paper is made from wood pulp that comes from Canada’s forests, which lost 28 million acres between 1996 and 2015. But if you look beyond the big brands, there are way more sustainable options out there.
If you’re a person living in America, you probably churn through the equivalent of 141 toilet paper rolls each year. It’s not often a thing you think about closely. Toilet paper is sold in abundance in the U.S.; you can buy 36-packs off Amazon. The supply, it seems, is limitless.
But it’s not without impact. Much of the pulp that makes up the tissue used in America comes from the boreal forest of Canada. The forest, which spans over 1 billion acres, holds at least 12% of the world’s carbon stores in its flora and soil. But the logging industry is decimating the resource. Between 1996 and 2015, over 28 million acres of the Canadian boreal were cleared by industrial logging, which directly feeds the tissue industry. Virgin pulp, which goes into toilet tissue, accounts for around 23% of Canada’s forest product exports. Not only is this terrible for the climate, but the industry is also destroying the habitat of numerous animal species and more than 600 indigenous communities.
A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Stand.Earth spells out the dangers of the logging industry, specifically for the creation of tissue products. The major toilet paper suppliers in the U.S—Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, and Georgia-Pacific—which own recognizable brands like Charmin and Quilted Northern, are a significant part of the problem, according to the NRDC. “People don’t really think about their toilet paper purchases as environmental decisions,” says Shelley Vinyard, boreal campaign manager at NRDC. “But most major household brands that people buy are made from 100% virgin forest fibers.” In the report, the NRDC includes a helpful scorecard that shows which brands perform the worst and best on environmental measures; popular ones like Charmin scored an F. (When asked about the report, Kimberley Clark and Proctor & Gamble both noted their wood comes from sustainably managed forests and that they support the standards supplied by Canada’s Forest Stewardship Council, though they didn’t mention any efforts to shift the material they use. Georgia-Pacific didn’t respond.)
Read more at https://www.fastcompany.com/90363370/theres-an-overlooked-product-that-you-definitely-use-thats-destroying-the-worlds-forests
Maya Khosla, YES! MAGAZINE
“Logging is the worst thing you can do to these forests after wildfire,” said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist of the Geos Institute. “Seedlings are killed as the logs are dragged out, and natural regeneration processes are destroyed.” Mechanical deforestation methods tend to cause soil erosion, which hinders replanting efforts and requires two or three rounds of herbicide application followed by additional replanting.
The May sun was still below the mountains when a small group of biologists set out in the brisk morning air of the Sierra Nevada. Comparing contour maps and checking radio channels, Dr. Chad Hanson and his team from the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute spread out to explore the Stanislaus National Forest, about 160 miles east of San Francisco. The team was searching for black-backed woodpeckers, which are increasingly rare in the Sierra Nevada-Cascades region and which seek out forests that have recently burned with high intensity.
The Stanislaus is one such forest.
In August 2013, the Rim Fire swept over the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, burning 402 square miles. Many feared its intense heat would prove catastrophic to the forest and its soil, leaving behind an ashen, lifeless moonscape.
“I never really spent any time in a burned forest because I was raised to think it’s just a destroyed habitat,” shrugged senior biologist Kevin Kilpatrick. “I was amazed at how much life there is.”
As the biologists made their way through the charred remains and dense new growth, mountain quail began announcing their territories with clear, high notes sung from the leafy proliferations of young black oaks and waist-high lilac bushes. Ground squirrels chased each other across a fallen ponderosa pine, charred along its length.
After three years with good rain and snow, the forest floor was so crammed with wallflowers, lupines, paintbrush, rare Clarkia australis blooms, oak and conifer seedlings, and taller saplings, that it was a challenge to step through.
Like most wildfires, the Rim Fire burned at varying severities. A vast majority of the forest burned with low or moderate intensity, charring the understory and sparing most trees, or leaving 25 to 75 percent as standing dead “snags.” About one-fifth of the Rim Fire burned with high intensity, turning more than three-quarters of the trees into charred snags.
And yet, despite the perceived damage, research has shown that high-intensity fires quickly grow into some of the rarest and most biodiverse habitats in the Sierra Nevada.
Read more at: After Catastrophic Wildfires, Forests Rebound on Their Own by Maya Khosla — YES! Magazine