Perspectives

Massive Global Reforestation to Solve Climate Change

Terraformation
November 9, 2020

This is the decade for climate action. We must do everything we can to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The remaining window of opportunity is short, and we need solutions as big as our planet.

Climate action boils down to two things: slashing fossil fuel emissions and drawing carbon back out of the atmosphere. Without immediate progress on both, many ecosystems and species will permanently collapse.

Terraformation’s mission is to catalyze the second part of the climate solution---massive carbon drawdown. We help communities scale up the most effective carbon capture tool available: forests.

Forests can recapture decades of emissions

Trees suck carbon out of the atmosphere to fuel their growth, acting as living carbon storage tanks. They anchor forest ecosystems and support an abundance of life, from soil bacteria to mountain gorillas, and everything in between. When thriving, these ecosystems are powerful carbon capture machines.  

Many studies estimate that about 2 billion acres of degraded land are available for restoration. This excludes croplands, human settlements, and regions in which albedo loss would outweigh carbon gains. We believe the total restoration potential could be even higher thanks to solar-powered desalination technology, which can accelerate restoration in challenging desertified regions.

Restoring these landscapes to their natural states will recapture decades of historic emissions, helping to close the gap between efforts to halt ongoing emissions, and our remaining carbon budget.

Native ecosystems matter

Planting a tree sounds easy. But restoring an ecosystem is not. It requires deep local, ecological knowledge, the right tools, early stage financial support, long-term monitoring, and a circle of community collaborators.

One size fits all solutions won’t work; every project must be tailored to its specific social and ecological environment. Structurally complex, native ecosystems restored in partnership with local communities are far more resilient to drought, flooding, fire, and economic events sure to occur over decades of growth. They also capture nearly 40 times the carbon compared with single-species tree plantations.

Scaling up is what we do

Restoring 2 to 3 billion acres of degraded land is a massive project. It will require innovators across the globe finding solutions that work.

We provide partners with technology, training, and business plans to support projects from seed to forest. Our solutions include solar-powered seed banks, nursery build kits, water catchment and off-grid desalination systems, locally adapted revenue models, open source software for data collection and ongoing project maintenance, and training to support partners throughout the lifecycle of their projects.

But most of all, we work with communities. Ultimately, success won’t depend solely on technology and training. It will depend on collaboration.

This is a moment to act for our living, blue planet. Let’s start working together.

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