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Should We Plant More Trees to Save the Planet?

Business

Jun 10, 2022 - 3 minute read

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Deepak Bangarpet Director

He is a Director at Objectivity with a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Having more than 20 years of experience in creating strategic relationships, he is recognised as a trusted advisor by his clients. Deepak has lived in India, UK and travelled across the world. He believes in the ‘think global-act local’ principle. When not at work, he enjoys reading and listening to all genres of music. Recently he is trying his hands on apiculture and has been stung by the beauty of these little creatures.

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Sustainable business practices and strong focus on the environment made their way to corporate agendas of virtually every major enterprise. While the overall intentions are good, the execution can sometimes leave a lot to be desired. Especially when a project wasn’t properly researched and is executed in a rush.

I am by no means an expert when it comes to this topic. Like most of us, I am trying to be aware of our actions and the impact they have on the climate, while also looking at things I can do to help in stopping the planet’s alarming rise in temperature. We are already talking about more than 1rise in temperature, since before the industrial era. If this phenomenon continues at a similar or faster pace, more and more parts of the planet will become uninhabitable. And sadly, that’s the course we’re currently on.

Can you offset emissions by planting trees?

I have borrowed from subject matter experts’ work to debunk some of the common myths. In this article, I am trying to look at one of the common sustainability practices. Organisations often feel justified in addressing global warming by planting more trees, especially when every company is greenwashing its agenda by planting trees.

If planting more trees is not properly organised and managed, then this can lead to other unintended consequences in the next twenty to thirty years, when the saplings you plant today grow into trees. If poorly managed, such activity could result in an increased level of carbon dioxide, which in turn contributes to global warming.

In the name of development and civilisation, mainly to grow food, create pastures, build roads and bridges, we have lost more than half a million square miles of forest in the last twenty years. This deforestation results in stored carbon in the soil getting released to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. This is the problem that needs to be fixed immediately.

To manage the extent of damage we, as humanity, have already done through deforestation, planting trees anywhere or everywhere is not the solution. Regenerating deforestation through tree-planting efforts is complex. This must be done through a responsible consideration of ecological and social factors of tree planting projects. Moreover, the Earth has a limited surface, and humanity can simply run out of space to offset the growing greenhouse emissions. This alone means that reducing emissions is necessary to achieve true sustainability.

Ideally, new trees need to be planted where they will be naturally supported like forests, not on grassland or farmlands. They should also pick the right species for the specific area and try to match a level of biodiversity of a natural forest. Today, many reforestation projects focus on a single KPI, often in the form of the amount of CO2 they can absorb in a specific time. While this produces good short-term effects, it’s not equivalent to creating a sustainable ecosystem

Private companies will have to work alongside scientists and agricultural experts for a sustained and positive value of their tree planting projects. It’s crucial to avoid the ‘pay and forget’ mentality if you want your actions to have sustainability at their core, not only in the name of the presentation you’re showing to your company’s management.

Conclusion

Companies will have to be more careful with the mentality of offsetting bad deeds by good deeds. Organisations cannot continue to only offset carbon footprint by funding tree planting projects. Instead, they will have to substantially reduce their activities that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

It is easier said than done, but the best thing we can do today is to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases as much as possible and stop cutting down further the natural forests we still have left.

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Deepak Bangarpet Director

He is a Director at Objectivity with a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Having more than 20 years of experience in creating strategic relationships, he is recognised as a trusted advisor by his clients. Deepak has lived in India, UK and travelled across the world. He believes in the ‘think global-act local’ principle. When not at work, he enjoys reading and listening to all genres of music. Recently he is trying his hands on apiculture and has been stung by the beauty of these little creatures.

See all Deepak's posts

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