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Dense tropical rainforest undergrowth.

Prevention is better than cure | Why we don’t plant trees

Trees are great. The world needs more of them. But we need to keep the ones we have already from being chopped down in the first place.

Many forest conservation models and climate change mitigation schemes focus on planting or replanting areas of forest. But Cool Earth believes that prevention is better than cure. Keeping trees standing has more benefits to people, wildlife and the climate. Here are ten reasons why.

Variety

Multi colored satellite image showing rainforest biodiversity

A single hectare of mature tropical rainforest may contain 480 species of tree. It would be impossible to replant all the ferns, vines and flowers that support the millions of microbes, fungi, birds and bugs.

Economy

The rainforest provides innumerable economic benefits. 1.6 billion people worldwide rely on rainforest for their livelihoods.

Carbon

looking down on the top of the green rainforest canopy

An acre of rainforest stores an average of 260 tonnes of carbon. In comparison, a UK conifer plantation grown over 50 years might sequester just 20-40 tonnes of carbon per acre.

People

Close up portrait of a male member of Sololo community .

Voluntarily isolated and uncontacted indigenous people depend on large areas of unspoiled, native forest land to gather the food they need to survive. Their culture and traditions are under threat from forest loss.

Biotic Pump

wide stretch of river with rainforest lining the bank, a mist hangs in the air

Research is continuing to highlight the importance of rainforest to the water cycle. Fire damage to the forests of the tropics won’t only affect regional and long distance water transfer, but also the viability of rainforest that remains, as fire risk increases with drier conditions.

Time

Child walking away from the camera down a path towards a wooden house on stilts. Trees line the path and further rainforest can be seen in the background

It takes time for trees to mature and grow into the carbon-storing, animal-homing, soil-protecting wonders that they become. Over time, complex webs of animals and plants and interreliance form. This unique ecosystem is impossible to recreate on a short timescale.

Biodiversity

Black and white camera trap close up image close up image of a nose, eye and ear belonging to a bear. The forest floor can be seen in the background.

We are losing around 135 plant, animal and insect species every day due to deforestation. A mature tree in the rainforest is an ecosystem all on its own. One fully grown tree in the Amazon can be home to up to 40 species of ant.

Soil and Replanting

Exposed web mangrove forest roots at low tide.

A single spoonful of soil in the rainforest contains 10,000 to 50,000 different types of bacteria. When deforestation happens, the nutrients and bacteria are quickly lost through run-off. What is effectively a heap of nutrient-rich compost requires cost, chemicals and time to recreate artificially.

Established forests provide global climate control, shelter a staggering diversity of wildlife, and provide a home and livelihood for millions of people. That’s why preserving these trees is Cool Earth’s priority.