Planting One Trillion Trees To Save The World


Only three weeks ago, there was a forest here.

When the forest was here, to say that life was evident and vibrant would have been an understatement.

Brilliant hues of color and light, dark shades of velvety texture,

Songs and cries loud as thunder and as soft as whispers,

Scents at once pungent, sweet, foul, crisp and moist,

All of these are now gone.

There were birds and insects, there were reptiles and mammals who made this place their home.

The forest cradled them with shelter, nourished them with food, blessed them with life.

Then, the forest was gone.

It had taken almost a century for this forest to reach its prime.

It took three weeks for it to disappear from the earth for good.

In a place where birds once sang, and wildlife made a home, only silence remains.

The vast majority of the forest’s biosphere is now extinguished.

In the aftermath, the few frenzied victims of the inferno live in a race to beat their own date with destruction, trapped into hostile habitats that no longer welcome or nourish them.

Displaced from the only home they knew, these frantic fugitives are now the first casualties of what will be successive waves of climate change refugees.

From the smallest microbe, to the largest mammal.

To even the mammal that is perceived to be the wisest by some.

All the fauna, all the flora that survived the desolation will suffer this fate.

If the survivors do not transform in order to survive this drastic paradigm shift, they will perish just as their predecessors will, in the same drastic manner.

This extinguished forest that had been shelter to these flora and fauna once made its home in the Global North.

Or perhaps, it was the Global South.

Which of the hemispheres this took destruction place does not matter.

For it happened in both places, and at the same time.

Numerous times, over and over, at the same time and in a queue of fallen victims.

It is happening now, to forests throughout the planet that created the perfect habitat for their survival.

The forests fell for different reasons: fire, outright destruction, drought, and other factors too numerous to calculate.

The soil underneath the deadened canopy that once been rich with humus turned dry in the drought that took place in the aftermath.

In this forested place that once held life, there is now desiccated desert.

The life that had managed to escape was now in a race to find a shelter to call home.

But there was no refuge for them anymore.

All because the forest that had taken a century to build was scorched in a matter of three weeks.


In all the talk about climate change and the debate that surrounds its existence (or at the very minimum, the debate if anything that remotely resembles climate change has anything to do with human activity), the reality of deforestation throughout the planet is anything but vague. Increased clear cutting, wildfires, floods, and other once-in-a-century natural events that now seem to occur almost annually are obvious examples of how the places that once were lush and green become barren and brown.

According to an annual study by the University of Maryland (1), 2020 saw the planet lose 26 million hectares of tree cover, which is tantamount to a square area equal to that of the United Kingdom. It has been theorized that deforestation is a factor in the feedback loop of drought, soil moisture depletion, and temperature rise. In many cases, tree cover has acted as a carbon sink in a manner similar to the ocean that covers the earth. And if 2021 is anything like the previous years, this deforestation will only increase that much more, and the cumulative effect of additional deforestation, regardless of cause.

There’s good news, or at least hopeful news, in all of this.

For one, nothing can be done about a situation unless one acknowledges the reality of what is going on. Deforestation is not only a common topic, but also one that has the potential to pull at heartstrings as people see natural treasures such as two thousand year old Giant Sequoias go up in flames in a matter of days and precious landmarks such as General Sherman wrapped in specialized fireproof blankets.

Images of such violent destruction to forests have the potential to consigning a sense of doom. But waiting for the apocalypse isn’t the only option. Any destruction, no matter what it is, also can lead to a call to action. And the call to action to save the world’s forests has led to many to mobilize.

It is this second objective that has led to the initiative One Trillion Trees.

What is One Trillion Trees all about?

Conceived in 2021 by the World Economic Forum as part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030)(2), One Trillion Trees is a section of a worldwide agenda to restore the environment as much as possible by 2030. Specifically, the objective seeks as a benchmark to plant, restore and preserve one trillion trees in the upcoming decade to mitigate climate change, offset drought and other objectives to protect biodiversity. Numerous agencies and organizations have pledged to participate in this project, many of them venerable and well known companies such as the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.

To say that this project is challenging is an understatement. It would be easy enough if one could just toss a bunch of seeds around and then let nature do the rest, and voila! A forest is born. No, this isn’t the way it goes at all.

But even if planting the initial forest was this easy, the maintenance and preservation of that forest in the face of all factors still face numerous obstacles. Especially so, given the atmosphere of increased drought and soil depletion, altered seasonal temperatures, destructive floods, storms and wildfires. Not to mention the strange rearrangement and disequilibrium of the biosphere that comes with the altered migratory patterns of life forms, seeking suitable habitats in a fast-changing climate.

It may seem like a losing proposal to even try suggesting that one can promise the life of one trillion trees in the midst of this. Just as soon as you get the forest going, it gets run over by a tornado, or lightning strikes in the midst of drought. And with lowering water tables due to increased drought and lower precipitation in many areas, is it more important to feed the trees, or to feed the people?

Ethical debates about who is more important than another make great fodder for a flame war on social media to pass the time, but in the end do nothing to fix the problem.

The reality is that whether one is a tree hugger who thinks humanity is the biggest problem on the planet, or an urbanite who thinks a tree is nothing more some random clutter in the sidewalk that only serves to house demonic pigeons whose primary purpose is defecate on one’s prize sports car, trees are essential to all life. Including the human ones, whoever or wherever they are.

It is in everyone’s interests to help towards the effort of keeping the forest biosphere alive, no matter what their lifestyle is.

Yours. Mine. Your enemies. Your friends.

The things you see and the things you will never see.

It really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or believes, about climate change or anything else.

Because when the forests fall, nothing will matter at all.

Visit these organizations for more information:

Better Globe Forestry Foundation


If we do not save the forests, does life have any chance of survival in the aftermath?


(1)“Sizing Up How Agriculture Connects to Deforestation”, Voiland, Adam (written by), Dauphin, Lauren (NASA Earth Observatory images by) (2021), NASA Earth Observatory

(2) “One Trillion Trees” (2022), World Economic Forum

Copyright © 2022 Jessica Kuzmier. All rights reserved.

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