A few months ago we talked about all the local benefits our tree planting projects provide for communities in developing countries: slowing the spread of deserts, providing fruits and medicines, and putting nutrients back into the soil. Of course, it's always useful to remember the climate benefits.Deforestation is responsible for nearly 20% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. That's 1.4 BILLION tonnes in 2005. So at Carbon Clear, we support efforts to slow and reverse deforestation. That includes projects that prevent people from cutting down trees as well as responsible, carefully chosen projects that plant new trees in developing countries. After all, tree planting has already been approved as a carbon offset approach under the Kyoto Protocol's "Clean Development Mechanism".
Not all tree planting projects are created equal - location matters a lot. A recent study by climate scientists Ken Caldeira and Govindasamy Bala showed that planting trees near the equator provides greater climate benefit than planting in northern countries, because the leaves of new trees planted in the north trap relatively more of the sun's heat.
"Our study shows that tropical forests are very beneficial to the climate because they take up carbon and increase cloudiness, which in turn helps cool the planet," explained Dr Bala
On the other hand, says Bala, "...in the so-called mid-latitude region where the United States is located and majority of European countries are located, the climate benefits of planting will be nearly zero...In fact, planting more trees in high latitudes could be counterproductive from a climate perspective."
All our current and planned community-based tree planting projects are on or close to the equator, thus maximising the location-based carbon benefit that Bala and Caldeira document. And as always, we focus on projects that provide social and economic benefits to participating communities at the same time they're absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.