Reforestation is the natural or intentional restoration of a forest or woodland that has been reduced by cutting down or fire or any other deforestation procedure. It can improve the environment by soaking up pollution and GHGs from the air, rebuilding ecosystem and mitigating global warming. It restores the fertility of the soil and regenerates the local flora and fauna. A hectare of forest captures about 30 tons of Carbon Di Oxide per year and mitigates the pollution of a significant amount.
Reforestation can be a financially profitable endeavor.
Figure: A reforestation site
Figure: Absorption of CO2 within the reforestation cycle
While reforestation replaces an existing forest, afforestation establishes forests in suitable areas where there were no forest previously. This is typically accomplished by seeding or planting. Many governments and non-governmental organizations charter programs to create forests in order to improve biodiversity and to abate carbon from air. DT Graham does so using proprietary methods to offer carbon credits.
Reshaping Our World
As our climate changes and arid land spreads we suffer from a lack of agricultural areas and the inherent nature of forests offsetting our carbon footprint.
Figure: Afforestation is ongoing in Arizona, USA
Despite the challenges, afforestation technology has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade. There are now many man-made forests in countries such as Brazil, China, the United States, Poland, Spain, and Iran. This trend has resulted in millions of hectares of unused arid lands being afforested and having a positive, measurable impact on carbon offset efforts.
Anatomy of a Successful Effort
A thriving forest, whether entirely natural or man-made, is a complicated system. Both successful reforestation and afforestation projects consist of three very different but interdependent layers.
The first is the forest floor. This is the bottom layer and home of the small plants and fungi. In the case of reforestation the local flora and fauna are used. Afforestation can pose unique challenges as at times no native species are present and care has to be taken in populating with new species.
The second level is the understory layer consisting of shrubs and small trees that can grow in the shade of the larger trees. With the growth of the forest the flora and fauna will automatically retake its position. Many native plants and animals will take shelter in the growing forest and contribute to the growing eco-system.
The third level, or canopy, forms the roof of the forest. This layer is made of large trees and grows over the other two layers. On average there are between 20 to 80 different species of trees per hectare.