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The Editors

‘Plant a Tree, Save the Planet’ Isn’t Enough

Reforestation helps soak up carbon — but how and where you do it makes all the difference.

Carbon cleaners.

Carbon cleaners.

Photographer: Jody Amiet/AFP/Getty Images

Limiting climate change means curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, it’s well known. But controlling emissions won’t be enough by itself to stop global temperatures from warming uncomfortably beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius. Carbon dioxide already in the air needs to be cleared away too. By the end of this century, up to a trillion tons of carbon dioxide will have to be removed, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

One effective way to do this is to expand forests and woodlands, which soak up greenhouse gases. Indeed, if enough natural tree cover can be added, it can accomplish one-quarter of the needed carbon dioxide sequestration.