We are facing climate change and global warming because of our destructive daily activities which are harmful to the earth. Our global carbon emission is the biggest cause of those two disasters, and the second biggest is how we always cut down trees that naturally function as carbon absorber.
So, how can we save the earth? Maybe many of you will answer “plant new trees”. Well, that’s not a wrong answer, because indeed replacing cut them down with new ones means we are paying for what we take from the nature.
But is it the best way to save the earth? That’s debatable. Can the new ones function as good as old ones in doing its job to absorb carbon? But if replacing cutting down the standing tall ones with the new ones, what is the best way to save the earth from climate change?
Those question became our foundation to write this article. This article will talk about a better way to save this lonely planet than planting new ones.
The Effect Of Planting New Trees
We cannot underestimate the positive effect of replacing cut down trees with new ones. The presence of new tree will not only ensure that life will keep on going in that environment, but also ensure that in the future, the job of cut down trees will be inherited.
Commonly called as reforestation, planting new trees in deforested area also gives the chance to plant even more trees that it used to be, thus increasing the effectiveness. Later on, it will give bigger benefits to the environment than the old forest.
According to Green Forest Work, reforestation is important to connect the gaps that appeared in the environment because of forest fragmentation and would increase its hospitability to wildlife. In example, golden-winged warblers and other songbirds will benefit from early successional forest cover and the reduction in forest fragmentation.
The activity of reforestation itself can also benefit us humans. In example, this is a labor-intensive activity that will open up employment opportunities. Not only for local residents, it will also open the employment to professionals, equipment operators, and other human resources.
Finally, it can also open up the chance for those who want to learn more about environment to educate themselves by practice. Reforestation will also give an outreach to local communities and they can witness its importance directly.
Replantation In Urban Areas
Talking about reforestation, we might conclude that it happens in areas which was used to be a forest. Now when we rephrase it as replantation, it makes the scope wider because replantation can be done anywhere even in areas which was not a forest.
In example, many British streets are now being introduced to young trees, thanks to Victorian street planners. The street planners designed the streets to be full of big trees that it is projected people are eventually more likely to encounter trees in streets than in forest.
Not only it will provide new home for urban creatures such as birds and squirrels, but it also would help the citizen to get fresher air every day. in addition to that, the presence of trees in urban places will reduce the stress level of local residences.
But on the other side of the board, United Kingdom is having an ‘addiction’ to felling street trees. Report stated that around 60 street trees are being cut down every day in the country for reasons such as building infrastructures.
Most of the victims were big street trees that could have been standing tall in their position for more than a hundred of years. The big trees were considered as consuming too much space that could be made in to infrastructure.
What Is Currently Happening To Our Trees
Replacing one big tree with one single small tree would make it clearly appear to be an unfair trade. But what if we replace one big tree with more than one young trees in urban areas, like what we usually do in the forest?
In the future, those small young trees might be able to give much more benefit to the environment compared to the single big tree. But the required time to make those young trees mature and fully functional trees can be decades.
“Until there is acceptance that large trees, taking decades to reach maturity, have significant value – a fact based on scientific evidence – we will continue to see spurious but convenient assertions that higher numbers of small replacement trees are adequate compensation to facilitate development,” said Joe Coles, urban tree campaigner of Woodland Trust’s work in Sheffield.
Coles said that big trees are not the problems in our life. We just see it from the wrong perspective, and “If we value green infrastructure to the same level as grey then large street trees will become far too valuable to lose,” he said.
During This Climate Emergency
William Moomaw, physical chemist and environmental scientist who co-founded Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School may be able to give a good view about this problem.
“It’s not that we shouldn’t do afforestation (planting new trees) and we shouldn’t do reforestation. We should. But recognize that their contribution will be farther in the future, which is important,” he said in an interview with Yale Environment 360.
“But in order to meet our climate goals, we have to have greater sequestration by natural systems now. So that entails protecting the carbon stocks that we already have in forests, or at least a large enough fraction of them that they matter,” he continued.
In short, in this climate emergency, we’d better off let the big trees grow rather than planting more new trees after cutting them down. Later on, in more stable condition, we should turn our focus on preventing bad things to happen in the future.
Big trees are already able to contribute a lot of things nowadays. Not only it can absorb carbon dioxide and give oxygen, it has been central part in its surrounding environment. There are so many creatures are already relying on their presence.
Thus, if we cut them down and replace it with young trees, although many, the important ‘now’ is delayed for decades.