ABC report: Climate change could be paused by planting trees, researchers say, as they map out available land

In new research published on July 5th, 2019, by Jean-Francois Bastin from the Institute of Integrative Biology in Zurich, it has been estimated that there is enough suitable unused land on the globe for reforestation to store approximately 205 gigatonnes of carbon. That is enough to add 20 years to the fight against climate change.

Using scientific modelling they determined the amount of tree cover the earth could sustain under current environmental conditions if there were no humans present. Then considering local climate factors (rainfall, temperature), they worked backwards subtracting existing tree cover, urban environment and agricultural land. They were left with 0.9 billion hectares of degraded land, which could be returned to canopy cover ranging from open savannah to dense forest.

Key countries included Russia, the United States and Canada, with Australian ranked fourth. It is expected that twenty million trees will be planted by 2020 under the National Landcare Program. This is however limited by the deforestation rates in Australia that’s at a spike in recent years, with one football field of bushland being cleared in NSW every 10 minutes in 2017-18.

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