Map: Here’s where we could plant 68 billion trees in the U.S.

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There’s a lot of former forestland in the country. What if we planted trees on it again? The U.S. was once covered in around 1 billion acres of forest. While much of that land has been developed, a recent study led by the Nature Conservancy found that there are still as many as 127 million acres of former forestland in the lower 48 states—an area about twice the size of Oregon—that could feasibly be reforested. In that space, we could plant 68 billion trees, which could capture more than 300 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, roughly as much as the pollution from 67 million cars. Read Full Story

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The planet is full of land holding ‘irrecoverable carbon’—and it’s at risk

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If we keep cutting down trees or destroying marshes, it won’t matter how many emissions we stop: The planet won’t be able to reabsorb the carbon we’ve released in time. Fossil fuels get the most attention in the fight to reduce carbon emissions, but preserving nature is also critical. Even if we drastically cut our emissions, it won’t do much good if we release the carbon that’s stored in living plants and soil. How much carbon is that? A new study found that there are more than 260 billion tons of carbon in “living carbon reserves,” including mangrove forests and peatlands, that are at risk of being lost. If it’s released now, planting trees won’t recapture it quickly enough for the world to reach the target of zero net emissions by 2050. Read Full Story

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These drones can plant 40,000 trees in a month. By 2028, they’ll have planted 1 billion

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We need to massively reforest the planet, in a very short period of time. Flash Forest’s drones can plant trees a lot faster than humans. This week, on land north of Toronto that previously burned in a wildfire, drones are hovering over fields and firing seed pods into the ground, planting native pine and spruce trees to help restore habitat for birds. Flash Forest , the Canadian startup behind the project, plans to use its technology to plant 40,000 trees in the area this month. By the end of the year, as it expands to other regions, it will plant hundreds of thousands of trees. By 2028, the startup aims to have planted a full 1 billion trees. Read Full Story

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We’re at a climate turning point. COVID-19 recovery plans could tip the scales

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What sort of future do we want? The pandemic recovery plans lawmakers are creating now will decide. It’s 2030. You live in a 15-minute city and bike to work on a network of bike paths; most of the vehicles that are still on the road, from delivery trucks to school buses, are electric, running on wind and solar power from a revamped power grid. Formerly redlined neighborhoods have been planted with trees, equipped with electric carsharing, and covered in solar panels. When you want to take a quick trip to another city, you ride on an electric high-speed train. Read Full Story

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What is a job guarantee—and how could it help us recover from the coronavirus?

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What if anytime someone wanted work, there was a societally beneficial job—like providing eldercare or planting trees—available to them? In the middle of the Great Depression, at a point when around 20% of Americans were unemployed, the Works Progress Administration put millions of people back to work building roads, schools, bridges, and other infrastructure. The Civilian Conservation Corps, another agency started as part of the New Deal, hired a “tree army” that planted 3 billion trees. Now, as so many Americans have suddenly lost their jobs that the unemployment rate could surge to the same level, it raises a question: Should the government begin creating jobs like this again, to make sure anyone who wants to work has work to do? Read Full Story

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Simply letting forests regrow naturally could suck up 8.9 billion tons of CO2 a year

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Money is pouring into tree planting initiatives, but there’s a cheaper solution: just give forests the space to regenerate. As countries and companies pour money into planting trees as part of the fight against climate change, there’s another way to regrow forests that gets less attention: when humans simply get out of the way and do nothing, the process can also happen naturally on land that has been deforested. The potential for natural forest regrowth globally could capture as much as 8.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, the equivalent of a quarter of the world’s human-made emissions. Read Full Story

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These are the companies leading the trillion trees effort in the U.S.

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As part of the effort to plant a trillion trees around the world, a group of companies is pledging to help the U.S. do its part. Over the next decade, Salesforce plans to conserve and restore 100 million trees. Mastercard plans to reach the same number in five years. Timberland is also planting trees: 50 million of them. Clif Bar is adding 750,000. Microsoft, which plans to invest in reforestation as one piece of a strategy to become carbon negative, is developing technology for conservation organizations. The companies are among 26 businesses, organizations, and cities that make up the new U.S. chapter of 1t.org , the movement to plant and conserve a trillion trees globally. Read Full Story

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Reddit’s former CEO is now in the forest-planting business

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Yishan Wong is building a system that can transform desert land into fertile ground for the trees we need to help stop climate change. Until recently, a remote corner of the Big Island of Hawaii was barren. The area was originally an ancient sandalwood forest, but hundreds of years ago, when the trees were cut down to sell the wood and cattle started grazing on the land, it became what is now essentially desert. Today, a startup is piloting a new system to bring the forest back on a 45-acre plot—and to demonstrate an approach to reforest the planet quickly enough to fight climate change. Read Full Story

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The EU is going to plant 3 billion trees by 2030

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It’s part of a broad plan to increase biodiversity by protecting 30% of the continent’s land and water. Over the next decade, the European Union plans to plant 3 billion trees. It’s one piece of a larger commitment to protect nature on the continent at a time when a million species, globally, are now at risk of extinction , and biodiversity loss also threatens future pandemics . In a new strategy document, the European Commission says it now aims to protect 30% of the region’s land and oceans, based on science that suggests that amount is necessary to preserve biodiversity. Read Full Story

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