As the world searches for solutions to global climate change, tree planting has become increasingly popular, with ambitious campaigns aiming to plant billions or trillions of trees. These projects often have other environmental goals, too, like regulating water cycles, halting soil erosion and restoring wildlife habitat. They also often have socioeconomic goals, like alleviating poverty. But how effective is planting trees at accomplishing all this, and how strong is the evidence for this effectiveness? To find out, Mongabay engaged a team of researchers who conducted a non-exhaustive review of relevant scientific literature. We detail the results below, as part of Mongabay’s special “Conservation Effectiveness” series. People have been planting trees to restock forests for a very long time. In the 16th century, for instance, wealthy landowners in Britain and Europe established tree plantations to supply timber for shipbuilding. In the 13th century, Portugal’s King Afonso III had a pine forest planted, known as the Pinhal do Rei, to hold back encroaching sand dunes (and provide timber for the royal navy). In the 5th century, monks on the Adriatic coast reportedly planted a pine forest to supply themselves with fuelwood and food. Even before these forests took root, Roman senator […]

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