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Tree-planting schemes threaten tropical biodiversity, ecologists say

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The Guardian or enjoy below

🗞️ Driving the news: Monoculture tree-planting schemes, aimed at capturing carbon, pose a threat to tropical biodiversity and offer only modest climate benefits, warn ecologists
• The growing trend of single-species plantations, including pine, eucalyptus, and teak, in the Amazon and Congo basin is reducing diverse ecosystems to their carbon value, resulting in unintended consequences such as drying out native ecosystems, acidifying soils, and crowding out native plants

🔭 The context: As governments promote tree-planting initiatives for carbon offsetting, scientists emphasize the importance of prioritizing the conservation and restoration of native forests over commercial monocultures
• The paper published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution highlights the adverse effects of non-native tree plantations on biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and socioeconomic co-benefits

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The paper challenges the assumption that maximizing carbon stocks in tropical ecosystems automatically benefits biodiversity and ecosystem functions
• It underscores the need to reconsider the value of ecosystems beyond a singular metric, advocating for a shift away from monoculture plantations in favor of preserving and restoring diverse native forests

⏭️ What's next: While acknowledging the economic viability of plantations, the ecologists emphasize that tree-planting should not be viewed as a panacea for addressing climate change and must be accompanied by a reduction in fossil fuel emissions

💬 One quote: “Whenever we value one part of nature more than everything else, we incentivise the propagation of that part at the expense of everything else” (Thomas Crowther, Professor of Ecology at ETH Zurich)

📈 One stat: The study found that to offset one year of emissions it would require to plant trees on an amount of land equivalent to the combined size of the US, China, Russia, and the UK, underscoring the immense scale required for carbon offsetting through monoculture tree-planting

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