Regrowing a tropical forest – is it better to plant trees or leave it to nature?

Press/Media: Articles in 'The Conversation'


The destruction of tropical forest is a major contributor to biodiversity loss and the climate crisis. In response, conservationists and scientists like us are debating how to best catalyse recovery of these forests. How do you take a patch of earth littered with tree stumps, or even a grassy pasture or palm oil plantation, and turn it back into a thriving forest filled with its original species?

Foresters have traditionally relied on planting trees, which seems obvious enough. Yet this approach has attracted criticism from some restoration ecologists, who argue that planting and caring for young trees is expensive and an inefficient use of scarce resources. They also point out that the carbon locked up in growing trees is quickly released into the atmosphere if plantations are harvested and used for short-lived wood products such as paper or cardboard.

Period23 Mar 2021

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