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Author Topic: Should governments be planting more trees?  (Read 4963 times)

Andrew Hiam

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Should governments be planting more trees?
« on: 08/09/2011 11:01:02 »
Andrew Hiam  asked the Naked Scientists:
   Why are the politicians, industrialists and business people failing to plant more trees, plants and shrubs within the housing and industrial estates to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Clearly, they must know that the carbon cycle is the only way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at the moment. Deforestation has to stop on a global basis.
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 08/09/2011 11:01:02 by _system »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Should governments be planting more trees?
« Reply #1 on: 08/09/2011 20:23:15 »
Trees are part of a carbon cycle.  They capture carbon for a period of time, then release it again as they are burnt or decompose. 

I think we should look at the other benefits of trees.  Wildlife habitat, shade, water transpiration, wind blocks, etc. 

Certainly in "timber areas", there are strict regulations about replanting after harvesting forests.  Cutting trees in a forest, and replanting is all part of the carbon cycle, without any net loss.  In fact, when the timber is used as parts of a house, the decay may be delayed for decades, or even centuries.

Deforestation of tropical rainforests may have far reaching consequences.  Cutting and replanting trees for timber harvest may have less of an overall impact, although it does carry risks of soil erosion, stream runoff, soil depletion, & etc.  Young forests may also be more susceptible to forest fires.
 

Offline Don_1

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Should governments be planting more trees?
« Reply #2 on: 04/10/2011 15:38:02 »
Although trees and shrubs are not the only CO2 recycling systems, they are an important part of our eco system. As Clifford pointed out, it is not just from the point of view of CO2 recycling that we should give great consideration to trees. A tree canopy plays host to many wildlife species, gives shade and helps regulate temperatures, prevents the ground from becoming waterlogged, provides wind breaks, prevents soil erosion and, especially in the case of deciduous trees, provides leaf mould to recycle used minerals and a moisture retaining mulch. Oh and of course, they may provide food for insects, birds and terrestrial animals, even the odd aquatic animal.

There are regulations, in some areas, to protect forests, and some do indeed plant more trees than they use. A certain manufacturer of toilet tissue here in the UK, goes to some length to point out that for every tree they cut down, three are planted. BUT, what are they planting? In the main, it will be Spruce or some other fast growing pine. All well and good as far as industry is concerned, plenty of trees which will take a relatively short time to reach the point at which they can be cut down for timber or paper, but the trees they originally replaced were Alder, Ash, Beech, Birch, Rowan, Willow, Oak and Scots Pine. These are the trees which should be planted, but they take a long time to reach maturity, so they are ignored by industry.

I am of opinion that it is the dwindling number of these native trees which is, in part, resulting in the dwindling number of song birds and our native Red Squirrel.

So it is not just a question of planting trees, it is a question of planting the RIGHT trees.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Should governments be planting more trees?
« Reply #3 on: 04/10/2011 16:39:45 »
Yes,
We have the same problem here.  A mixed forest will be cut.
But, the trees that are replanted are almost exclusively Western Douglas Fir, and may even have a fairly limited genetic pool.  Alder is often considered a weed, and will crowd out and impede the growth of the Douglas Fir which has a higher commercial value.

If they plant more trees than were cut, that would have to be due to factors such as spacing of mature vs immature trees, survival rates, and etc.  They will eventually need thinning.
 

Offline zincsulfate

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Should governments be planting more trees?
« Reply #4 on: 21/10/2011 07:55:43 »
Planing trees is everyone's responsibility.

But in government and enterprise driven,this activity will be done better.
 

Offline Don_1

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Should governments be planting more trees?
« Reply #5 on: 24/10/2011 18:05:38 »

But in government and enterprise driven,this activity will be done better.

I wish that were the case, but the fact is that profit driven planting will result in the best tree for profit being planted, not necessarily the best tree for the local environment.

Much of the UK's deciduous hardwood forests have been replaced with faster growing pine trees, not native to the British Isles, for the simple reason that they will produce a profit far quicker than the slow growing hardwood native trees.
 

Offline Airthumbs

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Should governments be planting more trees?
« Reply #6 on: 24/10/2011 20:00:41 »
I always wondered why Governments don't plant fruit trees to provide food? 
 

Offline Don_1

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Should governments be planting more trees?
« Reply #7 on: 25/10/2011 11:38:40 »
I always wondered why Governments don't plant fruit trees to provide food? 

That would be far too sensible. Please, let's have no more 'joined up' thinking.
 

Offline Adstar

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Should governments be planting more trees?
« Reply #8 on: 17/11/2011 05:19:00 »
Trees are not good carbon sinks. Unless you grow a forest then cut it all down and buy the trees. Lets face it that is not what happens. The carbon that is causing problems has not come from forests being cut down. It has come from all the fossil fuels being extracted from the earth and burnt, releasing the carbon that was formerly locked up underground.

I believe trees do have other positive effects but carbon control is not one of them. I believe it would help our environment especially soil erosion if tree based agriculture was a better option for farming. I believe more effort should be put into increasing the productivity of food producing trees. If the same effort was but into trees as has been put into wheat and rice the situation would be a lot better now.
 

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Should governments be planting more trees?
« Reply #8 on: 17/11/2011 05:19:00 »

 

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