So Simple It Could Work? New Research Shows Planting Trees Could Be Best Way To Fight Climate Change

A recent study shows planting a trillion trees worldwide might be one of our best options for fighting climate change. 

Researchers at a Swiss University found that nearly two and a quarter billion acres worldwide are eligible to be replanted with trees. That's nearly the size of the United States. 

The study says reforesting this amount of land would remove roughly two thirds of human-made carbon emissions from the atmosphere, more than any other single climate solution has proposed to handle. 

Jean-Francois Bastin, the study’s lead researcher, said “it’s true that the numbers that we got were mind-blowing.”

And he said they weren’t even counting urban or agricultural land in their assessment.  They did count grazing and pasture land -- something we have a lot of here in the Mountain West. But Bastin says planting trees can actually help create better conditions for livestock roaming public lands. 

Bastin said, at 30 cents a tree, planting one trillion of them would cost about 300 billion dollars.  More than money, he said finding the political will at all levels of government will be a challenge. 

“But if we are not ready to do that,” he said, “then we are not ready to fight climate change.”

And he said if governments don’t take charge, people can plant trees on their own. Researchers have provided an online map tool for anyone to look up the tree-planting potential for their region. The Mountain West has plenty.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.