Climate change and the role of forests
We have some pretty big goals at Plant Your Future. Not only are we looking to make a positive impact on the lives of smallholder farmers, we are also aiming to improve the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest and reduce global warming by restoring the lungs of the world. Luckily, a positive step towards one of these goals has a ripple effect, meaning a positive step towards all of them. The rainforest is one of the richest ecosystems on the planet and serves as home for millions of people, plants and animals. Managing the rainforest sustainably so it serves these people, continues to play host to an abundance of wildlife and meets the global need to cut carbon, is now a matter of urgency.
Deforestation and forest degradation are the second largest leading cause of global warming, accounting for approximately 25% of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – which leads to climate change. This is because deforestation causes large changes in carbon stocks over a short period of time. When trees grow, they take carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air and store it in their trunk and branches. When these trees are cut down, they release CO2 back into the atmosphere – causing the level of greenhouse gases to build up and cause significant problems for the world’s climate. Deforestation also contributes to flooding, run-off, soil erosion and the destruction of fisheries.
To argue the case for reforestation even further, a recent study has found that replenishing the world’s forests on a grand scale would suck enough CO2 from the atmosphere to cancel out a decade’s worth of human emissions. Scientists have established that there is enough room of the planet for an additional 1.2trillion trees to be planted in woods, parks and abandoned land. The impact would be more effective at tackling climate change than any other method – including a switch to vegetarian diets, the improved recycling of fridges and the construction of wind turbines.
So, what can be done to tackle deforestation and replenish the Earth? And what is Plant Your Future doing specifically?
Thankfully, the impact of deforestation and forest degradation has been internationally recognised, and REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) schemes have been introduced across the globe. Put simply, REDD involves some kind of incentive for changing the way forest resources are used. This can involve payments to projects in rainforest nations that will prevent deforestation and degradation that would otherwise have taken place, or projects that reforest or restore degraded landscapes to forest. Plant Your Future is an example of a project that has generated carbon offsets through planting trees on deforested land.
REDD+ stands for countries’ efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation by fostering conservation, sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Plant Your Future can be classified as a REDD+ programme, as we work with smallholder farmers to reforest the land and remove CO2 from the atmosphere. We’re proud to share that we estimate our agroforestry systems, once mature, will store nearly 450 tonnes of CO2 per hectare – which is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from 80 round trip flights from London to Sydney!
We think it’s very important to measure our trees so that we know just how much CO2 they contain as they grow. By establishing this we will be able to sell carbon offsets in the future, creating an additional revenue stream for our farmers and the project as a whole. Plant Your Future has been validated by the Rainforest Alliance against the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard and Verified Carbon Standard.
You can also support Plant Your Future to plant more trees and generate carbon offsets by donating. Just £10 can help us support our farmers and provide them with the tools they need to plant and nurture five trees.
You can donate by visiting: https://www.plantyourfuture.org.uk/donate/
Written for Plant Your Future by Chloe Tonkin, PR Volunteer