One of our faculty-led research circles, "Socio-Ecological Interactions with Tropical Mosaic Landscapes" led by Jennifer Powers and Forrest Fleischman, has published a new article: "Pitfalls of Tree Planting Show Why We Need People-Centered Natural Climate Solutions" in the journal BioScience.
“..natural climate solutions can only be effective if they respond to the needs of the rural and indigenous people who manage ecosystems for their livelihoods.” Fleischman et al, 2020
At this point in time, much has been written about the promise of reforestation and planting trees as a climate change mitigation strategy, which in part gained momentum as part of global initiatives such as the Bonn Challenge. Although undeniably photogenic, tree planting campaigns have garnered scientific scrutiny lately (Holl and Brancallion, 2020; Waring et al, 2020). Not surprisingly, the hype about tree planting rarely meets the expectations for carbon sequestration, and in some cases can even decrease ecosystem carbon storage (Friggens et al, 2020). Overlooked in these discussions is the role of local communities in ensuring the success or failure of these tree planting schemes. In a new Viewpoint published in the journal BioSciences, ICGC Faculty Affiliates Drs. Forrest Fleischman, Jennifer Powers, and other colleagues lay out the reasons why tree planting as a nature-based climate solution often can disenfranchise and threaten local and indigenous communities, decrease ecosystem services such as water provisioning, and create perverse incentives. This new Viewpoint shines the spotlight on the role of local communities, and provides a roadmap for integrating social systems into climate change research and fostering closer collaboration to meet climate change and societal goals.
Friggens, N. L., Hester, A. J., Mitchell, R. J., Parker, T. C., Subke, J. A., & Wookey, P. A. (2020). Tree planting in organic soils does not result in net carbon sequestration on decadal timescales. Global Change Biology, 26(9), 5178-5188. doi:10.1111/gcb.15229
Holl, K.D. and P.H.S. Brancalion. Tree planting is not a simple solutionScience 08 May 2020: Vol. 368, Issue 6491, pp. 580-581