WE NEED TO REMOVE THE EXCESS CARBON FROM OUR ATMOSPHERE
With the Paris Agreement (COP21 in December 2015), world governments committed to limiting carbon emissions to keep global warming “well below” a 2°C rise above pre-industrial levels, and possibly below a 1.5°C rise. In order to achieve this we must achieve carbon neutrality by the second half of this century.
While reducing carbon emissions is critical, research suggests that even if carbon dioxide emissions came to a sudden halt, the carbon dioxide already in the Earth's atmosphere could continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years. Therefore, the challenge is to reduce future carbon emissions and actively remove the excess carbon from our atmosphere.
A simple solution exists
Trees are the best technology (according to a study from the University of Oxford here) to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reverse global warming:
- Forests balance the Earth’s water-cycle essential for cooling our climate.
- In addition, forests play another vital role in stabilising the climate by sucking carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere and fixing it into soils and biomass.
- 50% of a tree’s biomass is carbon which remains stored, acting as a ‘carbon sink’, unless the tree decays or is burned.
- Global forests are estimated to hold more CO2 than the atmosphere.
"Forests represent one of the largest, most cost-effective climate solutions available today."
(New York Declaration on Forests, 2014).
We know we must halt the loss of natural forests and accelerate forest landscape restoration.
WeForest works with communities, local organisations and NGOs to develop scalable reforestation projects, demonstrating how it is possible to mobilise communities and restore our degraded soils. WeForest, backed by a scientific network, is growing a movement of small and large responsible companies committed to having a positive impact for people and for our planet.
We join forces with local partners to scale restoration projects.
We measure the quality of our activity and develop best practices (see Our Principles).
We share our projects' key learnings, benefits and impacts, to inspire others to participate and take action.
How much is needed ?
More than 2 billion hectares of land (or the equivalent of 50% of the world’s forests) are degraded and have been identified as having potential for forest restoration.
The 2011 Bonn Challenge :
150 million ha by 2020 is the target set out in the 2011 Bonn Challenge. This represents roughly 175 billion trees or 13 billion trees every year.
The 2014 New York (NY) Declaration on Forests :
restoring 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded soils by 2030 (the equivalent of the surface of India), whilst at the same time reducing deforestation rates by half, may be enough to limit global warming to +2 °C. The NY target of 350 million hectares incorporates the land area restoration target set out in the 2011 Bonn Challenge (150 million ha by 2020)
It is possible.
The Bonn Challenge launched a global movement in 2011 to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020.
The New York Declaration on Forests looks to halve deforestation and increase the land restoration to 350 million hectares by 2030.
The benefits for the People, Planet and Climate
Women are change makers. Therefore, they are involved in restoration activities such as establishing tree nurseries, seed collection, tree planting and aftercare. This creates jobs that are inclusive and provide opportunities for everyone to become entrepreneurs.
Livelihood: often the problems of poverty and forest degradation are intertwined. Restoring forests, coupled with sustainable forest management, can help lift economies and provide business opportunities which depend on the protection and nurturing of natural resources.
Water: trees maintain a healthy soil filtration system which helps ensure water quality. They enhance water quantity by promoting cloud formation and precipitation, slowing surface ‘run-off’, stabilising water course flow, and helping recharge groundwater reserves.
Soil: trees restore soils by enriching the organic content and protect them, preventing erosion and landslides. This benefits both climate and agriculture, yet 75% of world’s soils are considered degraded.
Biodiversity: forests are home to 80% of terrestrial biodiversity and house over two-thirds of known terrestrial species, including the largest share of threatened species. By restoring forests we help expand habitat ranges for both flora and fauna.
Oxygen: Forests are the lungs of the Earth, producing oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. They play a key role in generating air moisture content, generating air flow, and improving general air quality.
Clouds: Tropical forests are critical for regulating the climate because they not only absorb carbon, they increase cloud cover through transpiration and cloud nucleation, which helps cool the planet.
Carbon: 50% of a tree’s biomass is carbon which remains stored (unless the tree decays or is burned), acting as a ‘carbon sink’. In addition, trees are essential for preventing soil degradation and loss of carbon stored in soils.
Contribution to SDGs
WeForest supports the Sustainable Development Goals.
We contribute to the achievement of all SDGs, and especially the following:
End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
Our projects aim to diversify and intensify food sources, improving food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Read a story from the field - SDG2.
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
The empowerment of women is central to our projects whether through training delivery, women-led micro-enterprises such as nurseries or other economic opportunities.
Read a story from the field - SDG5.
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Forest restoration helps ensure a more sustainable supply of water within related watersheds.
Read a story from the field - SDG6.
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
Nearly 1 bn people directly rely on forests for their living. We are bringing back forests whilst diversifying income streams to decouple community livelihoods from deforestation, making them more sustainable and resilient.
Read a story from the field - SDG8.
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (taking note of agreements made by the UNFCCC forum)
We are taking action to combat climate change through the reforestation of degraded and degrading landscapes. Reforestation is also key to strengthening community resilience to climate change.
Read a story from the field - SDG13.
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
This goal best embodies the objectives of WeForest!
Read a story from the field - SDG15.
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development
We are advancing the FLR agenda by developing collaborations with the scientific community, think-tanks, intergovernmental institutions and not-for-profit organisations in ways that create shared value.
Collaborate • Restore • Measure
Collaborate and scale up
WeForest’s mission is to build upon corporate and scientific partnerships and provide the vision, the resources and the knowledge to empower communities to restore their forests and scale their impact.
Collaboration is fundamental to being able to Make Earth Cooler with trees.
"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton.
The world needs to stop deforesting and restore the equivalent of an area the size of India by 2030 (350 m ha) if we want a chance to stay under the 2°C temperature increase.
It's not about planting trees, it's about the overall result for the environment and for the people who live there. Regaining ecological integrity to enhance human well-being is key to ensure the forest will be protected for the long term.
WeForest's restoration principles.
- 1. Intervention
We identify and intervene in areas where there is growing threat of further degradation.
- 2. Tropical focus
Our geographical focus is the tropics where forests and trees are more efficient at cooling temperatures through evapotranspiration and cloud reflectivity.
- 3. Root cause
We identify the root causes of forest degradation and work towards developing alternatives.
- 4. Community engagement
We work with local communities to give them ownership, leverage local knowledge and enhance environmental stewardship capacity.
- 5. Woman empowerment
The empowerment of women is central to most of our projects whether through training delivery, women-led micro-enterprises such as nurseries or other economic opportunities.
- 6. Ecosystem services
Improved ecosystem services are an essential outcome of all our projects, such as a more sustainable supply of clean water, reduced erosion, lower landslide risk, flood/drought mitigation.
- 7. Livelihood improvement
We look to diversify income streams to make community livelihoods more resilient such as increasing the supply of forest-related products (medicines, foods, other resources), monetary income from alternative sources (direct employment in restoration activities, ecotourism), fostering and facilitating entrepreneurship.
- 8. Inclusiveness
We welcome multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve restoration goals.
- 9. Collaboration
We aim to advance the FLR agenda by developing collaborations with the scientific community, think-tanks, intergovernmental institutions and not-for-profit organisations in ways that create shared value.
- 10. Context-driven
There is no 'one model fits all': we have a context-driven approach directly linked to the needs of the area and stakeholders involved.
WeForest's restoration approaches
High density planting of a large number of tree species based on species specific characteristics - such as growth rate, canopy cover, lifespan and seeding traits – for the purpose of ecological restoration. This technique is used to recover degraded areas and create corridors between forest fragments. The approach incorporates a variety of planting schemes that take into account the typical changes we observe in forest communities over time e.g. species composition will change over time.
The integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape in ways that sustain productive, profitable and healthy land use systems.
A restoration method to enhance the establishment of forests by protecting and nurturing wild seedlings present in the area. ANR aims to accelerate natural successional processes by removing or reducing barriers to natural forest regeneration such as soil degradation, competition with weedy species, and recurring disturbances (from, for example, grazing animals). It may also include enrichment planting (enhancing the density of desired tree species) and transplanting of saplings.
- First of all, every hectare restored is mapped with GPS points to generate polygons that are assigned to sponsors.
- Extensive logframes with KPI’s - combined with regular internal and third party audits - provide the forestry and science teams with the necessary metrics to evaluate and possibly adjust their approach.
- The main environmental indicators used are: biomass growth for carbon measurement, tree density, survival rate & species diversity index.
- Some of the socio-economic indicators used are: number of direct and indirect beneficiaries, direct and indirect jobs created, number of people trained and additional income generated from alternative livelihood activities.
- Our applied science with FAO in India for example measures the rate of water movement through soil, collecting soil samples for lab analysis and conducting dye tracer measurements to understand water movement pathways and patterns through soil.