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An afforestation project in Rand Wood, Lincolnshire, England New afforestation looking into Rand Wood - - 329908.jpg
An afforestation project in Rand Wood, Lincolnshire, England

Afforestation is the establishment of a forest or stand of trees (forestation) in an area where there was no previous tree cover. Many government and non-governmental organizations directly engage in afforestation programs to create forests and increase carbon capture. Afforestation is an increasingly sought-after method to fight climate concerns, as it is known to increase the soil quality and organic carbon levels into the soil, avoiding desertification.


The rate of net forest loss decreased substantially over the period 1990–2020 due to a reduction in deforestation in some countries, plus increases in forest area in others through afforestation and the natural expansion of forests. A 2019 study of the global potential for tree restoration showed that there is space for at least 9 million km2 of new forests worldwide, which is a 25% increase from current conditions. This forested area could store up to 205 gigatons of carbon or 25% of the atmosphere's current carbon pool by reducing CO
in the atmosphere and introducing more O2.


The process of afforestation begins with site selection. Several environmental factors of the site must be analyzed, including climate, soil, vegetation, and human activity. [1] These factors will determine the quality of the site, what species of trees should be planted, and what planting method should be used. [1]

After the forest site has been assessed, the area must be prepared for planting. Preparation can involve a variety of mechanical or chemical methods, such as chopping, mounding, bedding, herbicides, and prescribed burning. [2] Once the site is prepared, planting can take place. One method for planting is direct seeding, which involves sowing seeds directly into the forest floor. [3] Another is seedling planting, which is similar to direct seeding except that seedlings already have an established root system. [4] Afforestation by cutting is an option for tree species that can reproduce asexually, where a piece of a tree stem, branch, root, or leaves can be planted onto the forest floor and sprout successfully. [5] Sometimes special tools, such as a tree planting bar, are used to make planting of trees easier and faster. [6]

A key benefit to planting trees: forests attract rain

Afforestation boasts many climate-related benefits. Several new studies suggest that forests attract rain[ clarification needed ], which may explain why drought is occurring more frequently in certain parts of the world such as western Africa, where trees are more sparse.[ citation needed ] A new study by Carol Rasmussen,[ citation needed ] NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory gives the first observational evidence that the southern Amazon rainforest triggers its own rainy season using water vapor from plant leaves, which then forms clouds above it. These findings help explain why deforestation in this region is linked with reduced rainfall. A study by Douglas Sheil and Daniel Murdiyarso[ citation needed ] hypothesizes that forest cover plays a much greater role in determining rainfall than previously recognized. It explains how forested regions generate large-scale flows in atmospheric water vapor and further underscores the benefit of afforestation in currently barren regions of the world.

Countries and regions


In Adelaide, South Australia (a city of 1.3 million as of June 2016), Premier Mike Rann (2002 to 2011) launched an urban forest initiative in 2003 to plant 3 million native trees and shrubs by 2014 on 300 project sites across the metro area. Thousands of Adelaide citizens have participated in community planting days on sites including parks, reserves, transport corridors, schools, water courses and coastline. Only native trees were planted to ensure genetic integrity. He said the project aimed to beautify and cool the city and make it more livable, improve air and water quality, and reduce Adelaide's greenhouse gas emissions by 600,000 tonnes of CO
a year.


In 2003, the government of Canada created a four-year project called the Forest 2020 Plantation Development and Assessment Initiative, which involved planting 6000 ha of fast-growing forests on non-forested lands countrywide. These plantations were used to analyze how afforestation can help to increase carbon sequestration and mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while also considering the economic and investment attractiveness of afforestation. The results of the initiative showed that although there is not enough available land in Canada to completely offset the country's GHG emissions, afforestation can be useful mitigation technique for meeting GHG emission goals, especially until permanent, more advanced carbon storage technology becomes available.

On December 14, 2020, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O'Regan announced the federal government's investment of $3.16 billion to plant two billion trees over the next 10 years. This plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 12 megatonnes by 2050.


Strips of forest are planted along hundreds of kilometers of the Yangtze levees in Hubei province Jiayu County - Panjiawan - on the Yangtze embankment - P1540267.JPG
Strips of forest are planted along hundreds of kilometers of the Yangtze levees in Hubei province

A law promulgated in 1981 requires that every school student over the age of 11 plants at least one tree per year. As a result, China has the highest afforestation rate of any country or region in the world, with 47,000 square kilometers of afforestation in 2008. However, the forest area per capita is still far lower than the international average. According to Carbon Brief, China planted the largest amount of new forest out of any country between 1990 and 2015, facilitated by the country's Grain for Green program started in 1999, by investing more than $100 billion in afforestation programs and planting more than 35 billion trees across 12 provinces. By 2015, the amount of planted forest in China covered 79 million hectares.

From 2011–2016, the city Dongying in Shandong province forested over 13,800 hectares of saline soil through the Shandong Ecological Afforestation Project, which was launched with support from the World Bank. In 2017, the Saihanba Afforestation Community won the UN Champions of the Earth Award in the Inspiration and Action category for "transforming degraded land into a lush paradise".


Afforestation on former colliery land near Cwm-Hwnt, Wales Afforestation on former colliery land near Cwm-hwnt - - 913687.jpg
Afforestation on former colliery land near Cwm-Hwnt, Wales

Europe has deforested the majority of its historical forests. The European Union (EU) has paid farmers for afforestation since 1990, offering grants to turn farmland into forest and payments for the management of forest. An EU program, running between 2000 and 2006, afforested more than 1,000 square kilometres of land (precise statistics not yet available). Another such program began in 2007. Europe's forests are growing by 8,000 square kilometres a year thanks to these programmes.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization statistics, Spain had the third fastest afforestation rate in Europe in the 1990-2005 period, after Iceland and Ireland. In those years, a total of 44,360 square kilometers were afforested, and the total forest cover rose from 13.5 to 17.9 million hectares. In 1990, forests covered 26.6% of the Spanish territory. As of 2007, that figure had risen to 36.6%. Spain today has the fifth largest forest area in the European Union.

In January 2013, the UK government set a target of 12% woodland cover in England by 2060, up from the then 10%. In Wales the National Assembly for Wales has set a target of 19% woodland cover, up from 15%. Government-backed initiatives such as the Woodland Carbon Code are intended to support this objective by encouraging corporations and landowners to create new woodland to offset their carbon emissions. Charitable groups such as Trees for Life (Scotland) also contribute to afforestation and reforestation efforts in the UK.


Afforestation in South India Marebilli forest.jpg
Afforestation in South India

23% of India is covered by forest[ citation needed ]. In 2018, the total forest and tree cover in India increased to 24.39% or 8,020. 88 km2. The forests of India are grouped into 5 major categories and 16 types based on biophysical criteria. 38% of the forest is categorized as subtropical dry deciduous and 30% as tropical moist deciduous and other smaller groups. Only local species are planted in an area. Trees bearing fruits are preferred wherever possible due to their function as a food source.

In 2019, Indians Planted 220 Million trees in a Single day in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.[ citation needed ]

On Thursday, 29 August 2019, Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi released ₹47, 436 crores (over 6.6 Billion USD) to various states for compulsory afforestation activities. The funds can be used for treatment of catchment areas, assisted natural generation, forest management, wildlife protection and management, relocation of villages from protected areas, managing human-wildlife conflicts, training and awareness generation, supply of wood saving devices and allied activities. Increasing the tree cover would help in creating additional carbon sink to meet the nation's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by the year 2030 - part of India's efforts to combat climate change. The Maharashtra government planted almost 20,000,000 saplings in the entire state, and will pledge to plant another 30,000,000 next year. According to The Telegraph, the Indian government has attributed $6.2 billion for tree-planting in order to increase “forestation in line with agreements made at the Paris climate change summit in 2015.” The Indian government has also passed the CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) law, which will allow about 40 thousand crores rupees (almost $6 Billion) will go to Indian states for planting trees.


Fourth year of a genetically modified forest in Iran, planted by Aras GED through commercial afforestation The fourth year of a genetically modified forest in Iran by Aras GED part of commercial afforestation in Iran.jpg
Fourth year of a genetically modified forest in Iran, planted by Aras GED through commercial afforestation

Iran is considered a low forest cover region of the world with present cover approximating seven percent of the land area. This is a value reduced to an estimated six million hectares of virgin forest, which includes oak, almond and pistachio. Due to soil substrates, it is difficult to achieve afforestation on a large scale compared to other temperate areas endowed with more fertile and less rocky and arid soil condition. According to the specific statistics of the Forests, Rangelands and Watershed Management Organization of Iran, every year, using appropriate methods and native tree species in each region, a lot of afforestation has been done, which has resulted in more natural stability.


JNF trees in the Negev Desert. Man-made dunes (here a liman) help keep in rainwater, creating an oasis. Jewish National Fund trees in The Negev.jpg
JNF trees in the Negev Desert. Man-made dunes (here a liman) help keep in rainwater, creating an oasis.

With over 240 million planted trees, Israel is one of only two countries that entered the 21st century with a net gain in the number of trees, due to massive afforestation efforts. Most Israeli forests are the product of a major afforestation campaign by the Jewish National Fund (JNF).[ citation needed ]

North Africa

Many African countries that border the Sahara desert are cooperating with the Great Green Wall project. The $8-billion project intends to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. Also in North Africa, the Sahara Forest Project coupled with the Seawater greenhouse has been proposed. Some projects have also been launched in countries as Senegal to revert desertification. As of 2010, African leaders are discussing the combining of national resources to increase effectiveness. In addition, other projects as the Keita Project in Niger have been launched in the past, and have been able to locally revert damage done by desertification.

United States

The United States is roughly one-third covered in forest and woodland.[ citation needed ] Nevertheless, areas in the US were subject to significant tree planting. In the 1800s people moving westward encountered the Great Plains – land with fertile soil, a growing population and a demand for timber but with few trees to supply it. So tree planting was encouraged along homesteads. Arbor Day was founded in 1872 by Julius Sterling Morton in Nebraska City, Nebraska. By the 1930s the Dust Bowl environmental disaster signified a reason for significant new tree cover. Public works programs under the New Deal saw the planting of 18,000 miles of windbreaks stretching from North Dakota to Texas to fight soil erosion (see Great Plains Shelterbelt).


Afforestation helps to slow down global warming by reducing CO
in the atmosphere and introducing more O2. [8] Trees are carbon sinks that remove CO
from the atmosphere via photosynthesis and convert it into biomass. [9]

Afforestation provides other environmental benefits, including increasing the soil quality and organic carbon levels in the soil, avoiding erosion and desertification. [8] The planting of trees in urban areas is also able to reduce air pollution via the trees' absorption and filtration of pollutants, including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone, in addition to CO
. [9]


Afforestation in grasslands

Tree-planting campaigns are criticised for sometimes targeting areas where forests would not naturally occur, such as grassland and savanna biomes. [10] [11] [12]

Impact on biodiversity

Afforestation can negatively affect biodiversity through increasing fragmentation and edge effects for the habitat remaining outside the planted area. New forest plantations can introduce generalist predators that would otherwise not be found in open habitat into the covered area, which could detrimentally increase predation rates on the native species of the area.

Surface albedo

Questions have also been raised in the scientific community regarding how global afforestation could affect the surface albedo of Earth. The canopy cover of mature trees could make the surface albedo darker, which causes more heat to be absorbed, potentially raising the temperature of the planet.

See also


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Carbon sink Reservoir absorbing more carbon from than emitting to the air, storing carbon over the long term

A carbon sink is any reservoir, natural or otherwise, that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period and thereby lowers the concentration of CO2 from the atmosphere. Globally, the two most important carbon sinks are vegetation and the ocean. Public awareness of the significance of CO2 sinks has grown since passage of the Kyoto Protocol, which promotes their use as a form of carbon offset. There are also different strategies used to enhance this process. Soil is an important carbon storage medium. Much of the organic carbon retained in agricultural areas has been depleted due to intensive farming. "Blue carbon" designates carbon that is fixed via the ocean ecosystems. Mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses make up a majority of ocean plant life and store large quantities of carbon. Many efforts are being made to enhancing natural sequestration in soils and the oceans. In addition, a range of artificial sequestration initiatives are underway such as changed building construction materials, carbon capture and storage and geological sequestration.

Deforestation Conversion of forest to non-forest for human use

Deforestation or forest clearance is the removal of a forest or stand of trees from land that is then converted to non-forest use. Deforestation can involve conversion of forest land to farms, ranches, or urban use. The most concentrated deforestation occurs in tropical rainforests. About 31% of Earth's land surface is covered by forests. Between 15 million to 18 million hectares of forest, an area the size of Belgium, are destroyed every year, on average 2,400 trees are cut down each minute. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines deforestation as the conversion of forest to other land uses. "Deforestation" and "forest area net change" are not the same: the latter is the sum of all forest losses (deforestation) and all forest gains in a given period. Net change, therefore, can be positive or negative, depending on whether gains exceed losses, or vice versa.

Desertification Process by which fertile areas of land become increasingly arid

Desertification is a type of land degradation in drylands in which biological productivity is lost due to natural processes or induced by human activities whereby fertile areas become increasingly arid. It is the spread of arid areas caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and overexploitation of soil as a result of human activity.

Reforestation Land regeneration method

Reforestation is the natural or intentional restocking of existing forests and woodlands (forestation) that have been depleted, usually through deforestation, but also after clearcutting.

Tree planting

Tree-planting is the process of transplanting tree seedlings, generally for forestry, land reclamation, or landscaping purpose. It differs from the transplantation of larger trees in arboriculture, and from the lower cost but slower and less reliable distribution of tree seeds. Trees contribute to their environment over long periods of time by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe.

Carbon offset

A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. Offsets are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e). One tonne of carbon offset represents the reduction of one tonne of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases.

Environmental issues in Indonesia

Environmental issues in Indonesia are associated with the country's high population density and rapid industrialisation, and they are often given a lower priority due to high poverty levels, and an under-resourced governance.

Biomass Biological material used as a renewable energy source

Biomass is plant or animal material used as fuel to produce electricity or heat. Examples are wood, energy crops and waste from forests, yards, or farms. Since biomass technically can be used as a fuel directly, some people use the terms biomass and biofuel interchangeably. More often than not, the word biomass simply denotes the biological raw material the fuel is made of. The word biofuel is usually reserved for liquid or gaseous fuels, used for transportation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) follows this naming practice.

The Great Green Wall, officially known as the Three-North Shelter Forest Program, also known as the Three-North Shelterbelt Program, is a series of human-planted windbreaking forest strips (shelterbelts) in China, designed to hold back the expansion of the Gobi Desert, and provide timber to the local population. The program started in 1978, and is planned to be completed around 2050, at which point it will be 4,500 kilometres (2,800 mi) long.


Biosequestration is the capture and storage of the atmospheric greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by continual or enhanced biological processes.

Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a significant transnational issue. In the DRC, forests are cleared for agricultural purposes by utilizing slash and burn techniques.

The Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project (MHWDP) is a 222,951 ha land husbandry initiative in Himachal Pradesh, India that aims by means of green growth and sustainable development to establish a functionally tenable watershed ecosystem. MHWDP has started to reverse several decades of degradation of the natural resource base including forests, has achieved improved agricultural yields and productivity, and has raised rural household incomes. It includes the Himachal Pradesh Reforestation Project (HPRF), the world's largest clean development mechanism (CDM) project.

Forest conservation is the practice of planning and maintaining forested areas for the benefit and sustainability of future generations. Forest conservation involves the upkeep of the natural resources within a forest that are beneficial for both humans and the ecosystem. Forests provide wildlife with a suitable habitat for living along with filtering groundwater and preventing runoff.

Deforestation in British Columbia

The deforestation in British Columbia has occurred at a heavy rate during periods of the past, but with new sustainable efforts and programs the rate of deforestation is decreasing in the province. In British Columbia, forests cover over 55 million hectares, which is 57.9% of British Columbia's 95 million hectares of land. The forests are mainly composed of coniferous trees, such as pines, spruces and firs.

Afforestation in Japan

The Japanese temperate rainforest is well sustained and maintains a high biodiversity. One method that has been utilized in maintaining the health of forests in Japan has been afforestation. The Japanese government and private businesses have set up multiple projects to plant native tree species in open areas scattered throughout the country. This practice has resulted in shifts in forest structure and a healthy temperate rainforest that maintains a high biodiversity.

Deforestation and climate change Relationship between deforestation and global warming

Deforestation is a primary contributor to climate change. Land use changes, especially in the form of deforestation, are the second largest anthropogenic source of atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions, after fossil fuel combustion. Greenhouse gases are emitted during combustion of forest biomass and decomposition of remaining plant material and soil carbon. Global models and national greenhouse gas inventories give similar results for deforestation emissions. As of 2019, deforestation is responsible for about 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Peatland degradation also emits GHG. Growing forests are a carbon sink with additional potential to mitigate the effects of climate change. Some of the effects of climate change, such as more wildfires, may increase deforestation. Deforestation comes in many forms: wildfire, agricultural clearcutting, livestock ranching, and logging for timber, among others. The vast majority of agricultural activity resulting in deforestation is subsidized by government tax revenue. Forests cover 31% of the land area on Earth and annually 75,700 square kilometers of the forest is lost. Mass deforestation continues to threaten tropical forests, their biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide. The main area of concern of deforestation is in tropical rain forests since they are home to the majority of the planet's biodiversity.

There are many pressing environmental issues in Mongolia that are detrimental to both human and environmental wellness. These problems have arisen in part due to natural factors, but increasingly because of human actions. One of these issues is climate change, which will be responsible for an increase in desertification, natural disasters, and land degradation. Another is deforestation, which is expanding due to human recklessness, pests, disease, and fires. Mongolian lands are becoming more arid through desertification, a process that is being exacerbated due to irresponsible land use. Additionally, more and more species are disappearing and at risk for extinction. And, especially in population centers, Mongolians deal with air and water pollution caused by industrialization.

Carbon farming

Carbon farming is a name for a variety of agricultural methods aimed at sequestering atmospheric carbon into the soil and in crop roots, wood and leaves. The aim of carbon farming is to increase the rate at which carbon is sequestered into soil and plant material with the goal of creating a net loss of carbon from the atmosphere. Increasing a soil's organic matter content can aid plant growth, increase total carbon content, improve soil water retention capacity and reduce fertilizer use. As of 2016, variants of carbon farming reached hundreds of millions of hectares globally, of the nearly 5 billion hectares (1.2×1010 acres) of world farmland. In addition to agricultural activities, forests management is also a tool that is used in Carbon farming. The practice of carbon farming is often done by individual land owners who are given incentive to use and to integrate methods that will sequester carbon through policies created by governments. Carbon farming methods will typically have a cost, meaning farmers and land-owners typically need a way in which they can profit from the use of carbon farming and different governments will have different programs.

Compensatory Afforestation Forest restoration to compensate for destryed forests

Compensatory Afforestation (CA) is defined as the process of afforestation, and associated regeneration activities are done to compensate for destroyed forest land that has been diverted to non-forest activities. In this context, non-forest activities mean the clearing of a forest or just a small part for the following purposes: Coffee cultivation, rubber, tea, plants with oil, medicinal plants or gardening crops. This may be for the purpose of personal use or for business use--or any other purpose other than the reforestation of the forest.

Forest in Turkey Woodland and maquis in the Eurasian country

Forest now covers just over a quarter of Turkey, but 4000 years ago most of the country was forested. The country is reforesting, which is important for the wildlife of Turkey.



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