Climate study: trees could stop climate change

Climate study: trees could stop climate change

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The currently most effective measure against climate change

According to a current study, worldwide tree planting measures could make two thirds of the man-made CO2 emissions harmless. A total area of ​​0.9 billion hectares is required for this. This is roughly the size of the United States.

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) have investigated the benefits of large tree planting measures for the climate. The tree turned out to be a potential climate saver. The ETH Zurich team presented tree planting as the most effective measure against climate change. The results of the study were recently presented in the scientific journal "Science".

Plant instead of destroy

ETH Zurich recently presented a feasible and nature-based solution against climate change. In an extensive analysis, the research group showed at which locations in the world new forests could be created and what massive impact this would have on the climate. No areas that humans use elsewhere are affected. “We have excluded cities and agricultural areas from the total area that has the potential for reforestation,” emphasizes study leader Jean-François Bastin. With this solution, humans would not have to do without anything.

An area the size of the USA is available for afforestation worldwide

The team calculated that under the current climatic conditions, the earth could be covered with around 4.4 billion hectares of forest. In fact, only 2.8 billion hectares are currently forested. This means that there are potentially 1.6 billion hectares available on which forests could grow. Cities and agriculture already occupy 0.7 billion hectares of this area. This means that 0.9 billion hectares still meet the criteria for afforestation, an area roughly the size of the United States.

Over 200 billion tons of carbon could be bound

If this area were forested, it could bind 205 billion tons of carbon. That is around two thirds of the total man-made CO2 that has been pumped into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

Surprised by your own result

This massive effect was a big surprise even for the research group: "We all knew that forest afforestation could help combat climate change, but it was previously unclear how big the effect would be," emphasizes the study leader. This is currently the best solution available to stop climate change.

Don't put anything on the back burner

“However, we have to act quickly, because it will take decades for the forests to mature and to exploit their potential as natural CO2 stores,” emphasizes Bastin. According to the calculations, six countries are of particular importance. China could contribute around 40 million hectares, Brazil around 50 million, Australia around 58 million, Canada almost 80 million hectares, the United States even over 100 million. First of all, Russia showed the greatest potential. Here, 151 million hectares would be available for afforestation.

Federal government wants to support afforestation

The federal government also wants to stop clearing forests and instead promote reforestation. According to the government, cleared forests cause around 15 percent of total CO2 emissions and make a significant contribution to climate change. The Federal Government wants to stop forest loss by 2030 and also provide new forest landscapes. (vb)

Also read:
Study: Consequences of global warming are even more dramatic than previously thought.
Weather blocks: New evidence of massive climate change.
Climate change is already endangering human health.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Bastin JF / Finegold Y / Garcia C / u.a .. The global tree restoration potential, Science, July 2019,
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich: How trees could save the climate (accessed: 05.07.2019),

Video: Climate Change: can nature repair the planet? The Economist (November 2022).