trees aren't a panacea

11th Mar 2020

Trees aren't a panacea


A number of months ago I wrote a short note about the answer not necessarily being trees. It seemed to me then that trees and climate had a more nuanced relationship than just plant more.


The RSPB has just come out with a report that seems to agree.


Having spent time in the uplands, trying to stop the wrong trees going in the wrong places, and joined then by the RSPB over the Flows, I was pleased to see that they still agreed. The RSPB isn't impressed with the short-term lock up of carbon in exotics. The key bit there is the short-term element. As their spokesperson stated:  if it short term, then it is cycling, rather than locking in.


A further confirmation comes in the locations: draining bogs and liberating more carbon than locked up for a decade or two in those ephemeral trees seems silly and, as they put it "disastrous for biodiversity". They cite the Flows as a case in point.


Where then? perhaps the shallow peats of the uplands- but even here (our old work on edge effects isn't formally cited in the press release, but is implied) " rare species such as the curlew cannot survive close to plantations"


The head of UK land use policy at the RSPB put it simply:

"We should not be justifying non-native forestry on carbon grounds it it's not being used as a long-term carbon store", and

';it's clearly not just a question of more trees equals a safer climate. Trees in the wrong place could exacerbate climate change and biodiversity decline"


Couldn't have put it better myself.