A study by Trillion Trees, a joint venture of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), BirdLife International and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has revealed that more than 59 million hectares of forests have been restored since the year 2000. The analysis and resulting reforestation map aim to prove that reforestation is possible with the right measures.
The area of restored forests is larger than mainland France and can store about 5.9 gigatons of CO2. This is more than the annual emissions of the United States. The study looks at specific cases, such as the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, where an estimated 4.2 million hectares have been restored since 2000.
“Deforestation is at the center of our climate crisis, and we must do everything we can to halt it,” said Josefina Braña Varela, vice president and deputy lead for forests at WWF. “In addition, the restoration of our natural forests will play an essential role in preserving these critical ecosystems. The analysis provides a positive outlook for natural regeneration — but this growth doesn’t happen without careful planning, increased investment and strong policies in place that lead to an increase in forest cover.”
The findings were attained through an analysis of satellite images spanning 30 years. The researchers also relied on knowledge from experts at over 100 sites in 29 countries to give a more accurate outlook.
John Lotspeich, executive director of Trillion Trees, said that the study shows that natural forests can recover, but action is also needed to speed up the process of restoration. Coming just a few months after the WWF’s map of deforestation fronts was released, the report is expected to help policymakers and governments make the right decisions toward reforestation and conservation.
“The data show the enormous potential of natural habitats to recover when given the chance to do so. But it isn’t an excuse for any of us to wait around for it to happen,” Lotspeich said.
Trillion Trees has warned that the rate of reforestation is still very low compared to deforestation. A lot still has to be done to restore forests and curb climate change.
Image via Andrew Coelho