What’s the Best Way to Regrow a Tropical Forest?

Deforestation is a major issue impacting biodiversity loss and climate change, which has caused conservationists and scientists like those at the World Economic Forum to try to figure out the best way to recover impacted forests. Traditionally, tree planting has been considered the obvious activity, but that might not actually be the best approach.

Restoration ecologists argue that planting and caring for young trees is both expensive and an inefficient use of scarce resources, according to the WEF. Additionally, carbon found in growing trees is rapidly released into the atmosphere if these trees are quickly used for short-lived wood projects — i.e., paper and cardboard.

Study Reveals Interesting Reforestation Details

Results of a 20-year study were recently published by the WEF to try understand the best way to approach reforestation. After a tropical forest in Malaysia was logged in the 1980s and 1990s, the WEF international team measured the amount of carbon existing in remaining trees.

They then monitored carbon storage levels for the next two decades in both areas left to regenerate naturally and adjacent areas restored by tree planting and reducing competitive weeds and climbers. After comparing the two areas, researchers found the actively restored forest was storing carbon 50% faster than sites regenerating naturally.

However, restoration efforts were notably expensive — costing a total of approximately $1,500 per hectare of treated forest. While the WEF noted some of these costs could be recouped by selling carbon credits, the total price is still unrealistic at this point.

Health Benefits of Forests

Taking a walk in nature is an amazing escape that’s good for your mind and body. Spending even five minutes around trees or green spaces may improve your health, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Some of these health benefits may include boosting your immune system, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, increasing energy levels, and improving sleep, according to the DEC. Therefore, it’s important to make deforestation and reforestation efforts a priority, because the advantages of being surrounded by trees — and these are just a few — cannot be emphasized enough.

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