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The surprising downsides to planting trillions of trees [EN]

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In un recente articolo su Vox si raccontano i paradossali effetti delle iniziative volte a piantare migliaia di nuovi alberi: si tratta di campagne di stampo ambientalista sempre più frequenti nel mondo, per le quali però il fallimento è spesso dietro l’angolo, e c’è anche la possibilità che promuovano la deforestazione. In alcuni casi, si tratta di operazioni cosmetiche organizzate in maniera pessima:

In November 11, 2019, volunteers planted 11 million trees in Turkey as part of a government-backed initiative called Breath for the Future. In one northern city, the tree-planting campaign set the Guinness World Record for the most saplings planted in one hour in a single location: 303,150.

Less than three months later, up to 90 percent of the saplings were dead, the Guardian reported. The trees were planted at the wrong time and there wasn’t enough rainfall to support the saplings, the head of the country’s agriculture and forestry trade union told the paper.

Anche quando gli alberi non muoiono, c’è la possibilità che l’operazione non produca alcun effetto significativo sull’ambiente e sul clima:

In one recent study in the journal Nature, for example, researchers examined long-term restoration efforts in northern India, a country that has invested huge amounts of money into planting over the last 50 years. The authors found “no evidence” that planting offered substantial climate benefits or supported the livelihoods of local communities.

Le iniziative, promosse di solito da Stati e ONG, ma in alcuni casi anche da privati, possono anche ritorcersi contro all’ambiente in modo clamoroso:

In Mexico, a $3.4 billion tree-planting campaign launched by the government in 2018 actually caused deforestation, as Bloomberg News’ Max de Haldevang reported earlier this year. The program known as Sembrando Vida, or Sowing Life, pays farmers to plant trees on their land, but in some cases, they would clear a chunk of forest before putting seedlings in the ground. One analysis by the World Resources Institute, an environmental group, suggests that it caused almost 73,000 hectares of forest lossin 2019.

Sebbene l’argomento sia dibattuto, gli esperti consigliano piuttosto di piantare meno alberi, ma con l’obbiettivo che vivano molti anni, garantendo un impegno decennale alla causa della riforestazione, che richiede molto di più del semplice “piantare alberi”, ma soprattutto “lasciarli crescere”. E anche questo potrebbe non essere sufficiente:

A bigger problem still is that many large planting campaigns don’t account for the underlying social or economic conditions that fuel deforestation in the first place. People may cut down trees to collect firewood or carve out land for their animals. In those cases, putting seedlings in the ground won’t do much to end deforestation. “Planting trees might not be the intervention,” Fleischman said. “The intervention might be giving people a substitute for firewood.”

Immagine: Il Bosco di Volano, Comacchio (Emilia Romagna) da Wikimedia Commons


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