TreeSisters and reforestation

In March 2019 the UN declared a Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and aims to reforests 350 million ha (around 865 million acres) by 2030. The advantages of restored ecosystems are many – slowing down global warming by capturing and storing carbon, increasing rainfall, providing clean water, improving air quality and providing sources of natural capital. It is believed that some eco-system restoration could account for over one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions reduction that are needed to keep global temperature increases to below 2°C.

Trees in numbers
  • Scientists believe that there are about three trillion trees on Earth – around 400 for every person on Earth!
  • Around 15 billion trees are cut down each year.
  • Up to 1.2 trillion trees would need to be planted to sequester a decade’s worth of carbon emissions.

TreeSisters is a charity that aims to reforest tropical areas within a decade. It was formed in 2014 and planted 12,000 trees in 2014 alone. Five years on, it is planting over two million trees a year in countries including Brazil, Cameroon, India, Kenya, Madagascar and Nepal. The trees cost on average just over thirty pence.

TreeSisters emphasise the relationship between communities and native trees. In Madagascar they have replaced mangrove trees in the north-west of the island. Mangroves are considered something of a superhero in the tree-world – they protect against coastal flooding, reduce the impact from tropical cyclones, filter sediment from river flows thereby protecting coral reefs, and they act as a breeding area for many species of fish. Moreover, they can sequester four times as much carbon as tropical rainforests. Destruction of mangrove forests between 2000 and 2015 released as much carbon as Brazil’s annual carbon emissions.

Since 2006, over 200  million mangrove trees have been planted, by over 1000 people. However, restoring mangrove forests is not easy. Most of the planting has occurred on government land or community land. However, some of the trees have been cut down for charcoal and for the creation of shrimp farms. Charcoal is the main source of fuel for cooking in Madagascar, so there is great pressure on the trees.

In Kenya, TreeSisters is working with the International Tree Foundation. Reforestation can help increase rainfall and improve water quality. Kenya’s forest cover is just 7%. TreeSisters works mainly with women as they are the main people who collect wood and water, and cook. They are more affected on a day to day basis on the declining quantity and quality of fuel wood and water.

The success or failure of schemes such as this influences not only people in developing countries, but people all over the world. As we head towards 2030, with little evidence of global warming slowing down, we will need projects such as this to succeed, so that people everywhere are spared from the excesses of global climate change.

To find out more information visit https://www.treesuisters.org

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