Did you know that a single tree can generate as much as 200 kilograms of carbon dioxide in its lifetime? That’s enough to absorb the emissions of a car traveling roughly 500 miles. Now imagine if you embraced a tree-planting program that planted over a billion trees. Hold onto that thought while you consider this: between 2014 and 2018, there was a loss of approximately 26 million hectares of forest. With a hectare being about the size of 2.5 soccer fields, this is a substantial amount of precious green gone. A tree-planting program to replace these losses is important, and many government agencies recognize this and are doing their part. However, this alone is not enough. Businesses are the key to successful reforestation efforts.
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Models for a Tree Planting Program
In terms of a tree-planting program, there have been successful global efforts. The United Nations was involved in a Trillion Tree Campaign as part of its reforestation efforts. But in 2011, the U.N. turned over its project to the organization, Plant for the Planet. This organization’s projects have made significant headway through the tree planting programs. Though global in nature, the project Plant for the Planet focuses its efforts where there is a need for a bolder impact. Specifically, this involves tropical areas where trees mature the fastest and where areas are most devastated by deforestation. Over time, they have recognized location, tree type, and level of tree maturity are the most important factors.
Many governments are also getting involved in these programs. In the Philippines, the nation has seen a 50 percent decrease in forests over the last century. Reforestation efforts are now in the works, however, to deter further loss of trees. In addition to a tree-planting program, the government has offered incentives against deforestation. Though strides have been small to date, a positive effect has been demonstrated. Other governments offer tax breaks for companies with a tree-planting program. Similarly, these reforestation efforts have been positive, but they lack the magnitude needed for a tremendous effect.
Companies Leading the Way in Reforestation Efforts
While governments and nonprofits are promoting tree planting programs through incentives, other companies are being more proactive. Biocarbon Engineering actually uses drone technology as part of its tree-planting program. These drones are able to assess topography, biodiversity, and barriers to planting to aid with reforestation efforts. Ecosia is another company that is contributing to reforestation projects. As a major Internet search engine, the company finances and donates significant amounts of its profits to reforestation.
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Several other companies are also pursuing tree planting programs. Another company, Land Life Company, was founded by an ex-Shell engineer. His company’s product enhances tree growth in dry, degraded areas through the use of a “cocoon” planting technology. Tentree is another company that designs and sells apparel. However, its reforestation efforts involve planting 10 trees for every article of clothing sold. Its goal is to plant a billion trees by 2030. Even Elon Musk has embraced tree planting program efforts by donating $1 million toward these types of organizations. Given these advances, it’s clear businesses have the potential to be much more of a change agent than other sources. (Find out how else Elon Musk and His Companies are affecting other Industries.)
Benefits Beyond Climate Change of Tree Planting Programs
When it comes to reforestation efforts, certainly carbon dioxide sequestration is an important outcome. However, a tree-planting program offers many additional benefits that businesses should appreciate. For example, a tree-planting program promotes better air and water quality, which enhances global health efforts. Likewise, these reforestation efforts are a sustainable way to provide timber, fuel, and fiber for the future. And a tree planting program also enhances biodiversity, which is important for a number of industries including medicine. Each of these is a great reason why businesses should pursue reforestation efforts as part of their corporate social responsibility.
Without question, many reasons exist for businesses to engage in reforestation efforts. But in addition to the ones mentioned, reforestation is expected to be a growing industry in the years to come. In fact, it is expected to be quite profitable for many companies. The reforestation economy was cited at $9.5 billion in 2015 and continues to expand. In addition, a tree-planting program and other projects employ thousands of individuals. Annual employment in reforestation efforts totals 126,000 in the U.S., which is nearly 60 percent more than the coal industry. And the sustainability factor drives lower costs over time, meaning reforestation efforts adds to the bottom line. Therefore, moral and economic incentives should be driving businesses to develop their own tree-planting program.
Together, Business Can Make a Global Impact
To date, governments and nonprofits have invested significant efforts toward reforestation. Likewise, they also pursue incentives and policies against deforestation. But these efforts alone will not be enough. While a tree-planting program has notable potential and benefits, efforts will need to be more widespread. That is where businesses come into play. Through their collective effort, there will be a realization of a true global impact on reforestation efforts. Indeed, businesses hold the key to helping this sustainable and natural approach to climate change succeed.