Reforestation, Retention, and Preservation by Plant Mitigation

A Suffocating Earth…

In a world of rapid globalization and industrialization, ugly patchworks of deforestation are expanding across the face of the earth. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, approximately 18 million acres of forest are permanently destroyed each year, and nearly 50% of the world’s tropical forests have already been cleared. NASA predicts that, at this rate, we’ll have cleared all remaining tropical forests within the next 100 years. According to the World Wildlife Fund, we lose roughly 36 football fields’ worth of trees every minute. Mitigation, the preservation and retention of nature, has become a rallying cry—not as an option, but as a necessity. The statistics are frightening and the sights are saddening, but most of us have yet to comprehend the devastating domino effect of deforestation. Forests are complex ecosystems that house over 70% of Earth’s plants and animals; trees lessen pollution and anchor the soil. Deforestation not only inhibits trees from consuming toxic greenhouse gases, but contributes to those toxins as the dying trees release toxins back into the atmosphere. Changes in atmospheric concentration are emerging as catalysts to unfavorable climate change.

Counteracting Deforestation with Plant Mitigation

As kids, we learned that plants are at the base of the food chain and that they absorb CO2 and emit oxygen, sustaining life and mitigating the “greenhouse effect” we are so keen to create. Yet according to calculations by Greenfleet Magazine, 23 trees must be planted each year to offset the emissions of one petrol-fueled car that annually covers 15,000 km. Plant mitigation—on the basis that we must plant a tree for each one torn down—is a noble practice and a promising mentality. But people mistake mitigation as the “solution” to deforestation; let’s all forget this ever happened; just buy more containers of plants, and—voila!—problem solved. Deforestation must be countered by an enormous replanting effort and revamped mindset about how we treat the earth. It’s only a piece of the puzzle—but it’s still an enormous piece. Mitigation basically is composed of two practices:  The preservation/retention of existing trees, and  The restoration/planting of new trees (i.e. as seedlings, containers, or as bare root stock).

The Reforestation Strategy

It is important to also take several factors into account before tackling mitigation, including the planting date (seasonal timing; during/after the project construction), the selection of plants (could include seedlings, containers, or bare root stock), and the legal installation of these. Reforestation should be guided by the following objectives: * Preservation of net loss of canopy or forest type, and retention of mature canopy. To succeed in this in the long-term, the mitigation ratio should be at least 1:1 (one new tree for each one lost) and new trees should have a similar mature canopy spread.

  • Retention of local tree genetic resources. The preservation of too few or wide-scattered members of a wind-pollinated species would eliminate regeneration by preventing seed set. Choosing containers of non-local planting (be it bare root, container stock, or seedlings) also quickens the loss of local genetic traits.

  • Preservation of habitat values and species diversity. To promote planting success and sustainability, it’s important to practice mitigation with containers of trees that are native to the region or which can adapt easily to the preexisting ecosystem. Wildlife diversity will also correlate with tree species diversity.

  • Retention of age diversity, accomplished if a variety of ages are represented in the protective trees/stands. Today’s plant material will become tomorrow’s even-aged stands.

We can fight back. Think of it as providing CPR to Mother Nature, and let the world breathe more easily. At Native Forest Nursery, it is our mission and our pleasure to assist you with the proper tools and framework for successful mitigation. With numerous species of trees to choose from in our containers, we can advise you as to which seedlings or transplants would thrive best given your situation. It is in everyone’s power to contribute to effective reforestation; we can do a literal world of good through mitigation, proactive prevention practices, and a significant increase of social awareness concerning the preservation and retention of the forest ecosystem.