What is the basis for the goal to conserve, restore, and grow a trillion trees globally by 2030?
This goal is based on several bodies of scientific research that suggest that forests are a key component of addressing the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and their consequences for human livelihoods and well-being.
The goal to conserve, restore, and grow 1 trillion trees by 2030 is a global objective for the restoration community. Support for this target includes research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab indicating that there were nearly 6 trillion trees on our planet prior to the Agricultural Revolution 12,000 years ago. Today, it’s estimated that only half remain. This study suggested that there is potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land by growing 1 to 1.2 trillion trees and recognized the importance of planting and regenerating the right trees in the right places.
Is 1t.org only focused on planting new trees?
Our mantra is “conserve, restore, grow”. We’ve chosen that order for a reason. The foundation for forest conservation is to maintain existing, healthy forests as forests. The next best option for carbon sequestration, maintaining biodiversity, and all the other benefits that trees provide (water capture, healthy soils, climate regulation, etc.) is to restore degraded forests. This can either be through natural regeneration (leaving forests to recover on their own) or through assisted regeneration (i.e. through the removal of old infrastructure that may inhibit tree growth).
Lastly, we emphasize the word “grow” instead of “plant”. Tree planting initiatives are a key part of reforestation commitments and essential in areas that are too degraded to recover on their own. We use “grow” to emphasize that simply putting a seedling in the ground is not sufficient – that tree needs to be supported to maturity to reach its full potential. It also needs to be the right species, planted in the right conditions.
Why do we need forests?
The degradation and loss of forests is destabilizing natural systems on a scale never seen in human history. We have already lost nearly half of the trees that existed before the onset of agriculture, and this loss continues to grow every year from both human and climate impacts.
Forests are critical to the health of people and the planet. They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers. Deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for 15% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions and are primary drivers of species loss and extinction. Forests harbour 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. They are also a treasure trove of innovation and source of subsistence and survival for 350 million people.
Healthy forests are also essential for the global economy through jobs and sustainable livelihoods created by forest products and activities such as conservation and restoration. The cost to business is increasingly evident. More than half of our annual global GDP, or $44 trillion, is potentially threatened by nature loss because business depends on nature and its services.
Can we solve climate change by planting trees?
No, absolutely not.
To address climate change we must first rapidly and significantly decarbonize across all sectors of industry and economic activity.
In addition to that, healthy forest ecosystems can make a substantial contribution toward addressing climate change. One mature tree can capture an average of 0.62 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) over its lifetime. That is equivalent to the carbon emissions from driving one car 2,400 kilometers. In the U.S. for example, forests and forest products currently capture and store 15% of U.S carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion each year, and research suggests this could be doubled through sensible forestry practices.
It is not a simple either/or scenario. To address climate change we need to decarbonize our economy and we need to protect and restore our forests.
Furthermore, forests are absolutely critical to maintaining biodiversity and the ecosystem services upon which our livelihoods depend, which are being severely threatened by increased nature loss. Hence their conservation and restoration are needed regardless of the role they play in climate mitigation, to bring us onto a nature-positive trajectory.
How can 1t.org’s vision be met by 2030?
This ambitious target can be met through actions that conserve forests that already exist, slow deforestation, help restore degraded forests, and grow the right tree species in the right places.
1.torg has been designed to serve the global trillion trees community. We aim to empower organizations and individuals to more effectively undertake needed actions so we can collectively achieve the trillion trees vision.
These activities include:
- Permanent conservation of existing trees and forests, such as placing areas of old growth and primary ecosystems under protection
- Restoring and growing trees, including passive forest regeneration, reforestation of degraded forest lands, appropriate tree-planting schemes on suitable agricultural land (such as agroforestry), and urban tree planting
- Supporting activities for trillion trees that enable the entire 1t.org community to build better systems to further catalyze progress, such as nursery development, technology tools, technical assistance, markets and innovation, capacity building, and workforce development
How does 1t.org work to ensure responsible forestry practices are maintained?
The success of conserving, restoring, and growing forests requires following ecologically sound principles—such as only planting trees in landscapes where they are ecologically appropriate, and ensuring that biodiversity is maintained or enhanced. Converting treeless native grasslands into forests, for example, would create ecological damage that overrides any environmental benefits the trees would provide.
Furthermore, forestry activities need to incorporate scientific and traditional knowledge considerations such as “the right tree in the right place”, and considerations for planting forests that can withstand future climate change stresses.
To help guide companies that are making commitments we provide best practice inputs, such as the IUCN Standard for Nature-Based Solutions, as resources to consider when developing appropriate approaches.
All companies (and other entities in the case of the US Chapter) making a commitment towards forest conservation, restoration or reforestation are encouraged to include a statement on how they plan to uphold responsible and equitable standards when implementing their pledge. This includes “ecologically appropriate and climate-informed forestry (e.g., right tree right place)” and “long-term stewardship and capacity.”
How can individuals get involved with 1t.org?
Everyone – no matter where you live or how young or old you are – can join the movement and get involved in 1t.org:
- Through your personal actions to conserve and grow trees in your community, making sure you follow best practices
- By supporting an organization of your choice that is active in forest conservation, restoration and reforestation – either through donations or by getting involved directly
- By participating in the Trillion Trees Challenges via UpLink, to submit your solutions, fresh perspectives and ideas to help meet the Trillion Trees goal
- By helping to raise awareness about the role of trees and forests and 1t.org’s contribution to the global reforestation movement. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to amplify the message of re-greening our planet
How can corporations and NGOs/civil society groups get involved with 1t.org?
Companies, NGOs and civil society groups who are committed to forest conservation and restoration can get engaged in the multi-stakeholder coalitions in our priority regions.
Global companies who are prepared to show leadership and raise ambition in this space can join the Corporate Alliance.
NGOs and civil society groups who have developed solutions and models that are ready to scale can showcase them via the UpLink Trillion Trees Challenge.
Youth groups can get engaged via the global youth hub that is being created in partnership with the UN Decade for Ecosystem restoration and the Global Landscapes Forum.
Is 1t.org collecting donations? Can 1t.org support my project?
1t.org is a platform to engage the reforestation community and can neither collect nor distribute donations.
There are many organizations active in the forest conservation and restoration space accepting individual donations, and we encourage you to find one that meets your goals.
If you have a project and are looking for donations, consider submitting your solution on the UpLink Trillion Trees Challenge, particularly if you are active in one of the regions where we engage, which will be running regional challenges sourcing solutions from the field.