Highly ambitious tree-planting projects are happening all over the world, but many of them are failing thanks to poor planning and aftercare. Find out how World Land Trust ensure their projects have a successful outcome.

It’s pitched as the great saviour of climate change, an obvious method of capturing more carbon while improving the wellbeing of billions of people around the world. Governments around the world have signed up to a number of ambitious initiatives and schemes that promote this activity, while people are encouraged to donate time and money to boost its success.

However, a number of high-profile tree planting projects designed to offset carbon emissions have come under fire not only for failing to create sustainable forestry, but severely undermining further efforts to use planting as a credible way to combat climate change. Put simply, hastily arranged and poorly thought-out planting schemes are doing more harm than good.

A history of failure

Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples of reforesting failures. An investigation by researchers at Florida State University found little evidence that a huge government-organized tree planting project in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh had resulted in more carbon sequestering or tree cover.

Another study conducted by World Resources Institute questioned the environmental benefits of a government-funded tree-planting programme in Mexico, concluding that rates of forest loss were greater in states implementing the plan than in those that didn’t. And in the Philippines, a National Greening Program was deemed a failure by its own government, whose study into the results of the scheme stated that the actual increase in forest cover achieved was little more than a tenth of that planned.

The failure of many of these projects appears to lie in a lack of environmental knowledge and experience, as well as a haste to get the job done with little or no aftercare. Inappropriate tree species that become vulnerable to disease, planting on land not previously forested, and even basic tasks such as watering the saplings all contribute to a lot of wasted time and money.

The power of partnerships

However, there are a number of environmental charities dedicated to restoring and protecting land that know what they are doing and understand how to make tree planting a success. One of them is World Land Trust (WLT). As well as protecting existing forestry and the plant and animal species within them, WLT have a number of forest restoration projects around the globe, repairing damaged ecosystems and making a significant contribution to the lives of local communities, as well as halting climate change.

In contrast to many headline-grabbing planting schemes, WLT works in partnership with local eco-organisations, selecting sites that are rich in biodiversity to support long-term conservation. Once a suitable site is selected, both WLT and its local partner will carefully monitor every stage of the reforestation process, from collecting seeds of native trees and tending the saplings to planting and monitoring the saplings for at least 10 years. And if a planted tree dies then the partner will replace it.

Planting with purpose

So far, WLT’s Plant a Tree campaign has planted over two million trees across 5,930 acres, and the organisation currently has three replanting projects around the world: the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, the Genting Corridor in Malaysian Borneo, and the D’ering-Dibru Saikhowa Corridor in India. Not only do these projects restore vital land, but they provide employment and education for local people.

So if you’re considering tree-planting projects as a way to offset your carbon then make sure you consider the entire process, and whether the project has a commitment from the local community to nurture and protect the saplings until they become a highly resilient, carbon-absorbing tree. Because World Land Trust already has.

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