Nature-based solutions to the climate crisis must work with vulnerable communities, not leave them to pick up the bill
A new study extols the “mindblowing” potential of widespread tree planting as a solution to climate breakdown. The scientists claim that 1bn hectares of treeless land could be forested – an area equivalent to the size of the US – and the study’s authors say restoration of such areas could remove two-thirds (205 gigatonnes) of all the carbon dioxide emissions pumped into the atmosphere by human activities since the 1800s.
A number of organisations and scientists are investigating these nature-based climate solutions. While studies show different levels of ambition and potential, all are clear that carefully restored ecosystems can help solve three interlinked crises: the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and poverty. For climate, the most urgent priority to meet the goal of keeping global heating below 1.5C is decarbonising the economy, but restoring our forests, grasslands and wetlands, plus enhancing soil health, could provide part of the solution to the climate crisis. Land restoration and stewardship can both help stabilise the Earth’s climate by storing carbon, and provide ecosystems critical for wildlife – forests, mangroves, wetlands and coral reefs. This can also benefit local communities, particularly in emerging regions of the global south least responsible for this crisis and already suffering most severely from the impacts.
Empowering communities can unleash a wave of ingenuity to work with, not against, nature