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Bewaretheicespiders t1_isur90x wrote

Environmental theater. When the goal is planting trees and not growing trees. It can succeed, but it requires someone in charge who 1-understands the science behind it and 2-has some accountability for the results. Which is difficult because it takes decades of care.


ScagWhistle t1_isv0pvf wrote

But that would require the scientists to be in charge of the government... which is a brilliant idea.


Bewaretheicespiders t1_isv7mff wrote

No no no. Have the government pay the private enterprise for results. Dont pay for planting a tree, pay for a tree actually growing there. And dont give 1 contract, give 2-3 competing contract.

Its the same issue for roads, they pay to pave a road and it barely last because they pay for the road to be paved, and not for the road to last.


Prince_Ire t1_isvemuz wrote

Turns out, paying for the lowest bidder doesn't necessarily mean you get quality results.


hatchway t1_isw14n0 wrote

In project management we have a principle that you can generally only prioritize one out of speed, quality, or budget. A good, experienced project team can get you two of them, while a miracle can get you all three.


[deleted] t1_iswsvd9 wrote



hatchway t1_isyo60y wrote

Correct! I figure I can accelerate one without risking the others. Accelerating two strongly risks the third.

I'm fairly handy with tools, materials, and software so DIY is my version of "cheap and quality". Still can't be too slow, though, or it risks household tension from too many unfinished tasks (lol)


[deleted] t1_isyuzs3 wrote



hatchway t1_isz2obr wrote

Good rule of thumb. I buy nicer stuff when I can, because a nice pair of pliers or garden trowel (for example) will likely outlive me, while a cheap one will need to be replaced every 2-5 years.


Bomamanylor t1_isxamra wrote

Procurement attorney here. This is so incredibly true that the government has to actively encourage contracting officers not to issue LPTA (lowest price technically acceptable) solicitations. It was a whole initiative a few years ago.

These contracts can work, and better than running it in-house (using gov’t employees), but you really have to write your contracts carefully.


Firebrand-Xana t1_isxukqe wrote

Why would the government want results? All it wants is a problem people are willing to spend cash on. Then it waits for its failed project to fail, and asks for cash again.


Adam_is_Nutz t1_isvqp88 wrote

As a scientist, trust me, you don't want that


PO0tyTng t1_isw2c8r wrote

Scientists should absolutely dictate policy. Science is the culmination of trial and error.

You sir, need to reconsider your viewpoint. I say this as a scientist.


Glass_Front t1_isw9kjy wrote

There's a difference between scientists and science dictating policy, and scientists being in control of the government. As much as I love science, it and statecraft are two very different fields, and someone being good at the former in no way means they will be good at the latter.


CriticalUnit t1_iswpjii wrote

> statecraft

I think you're mixing up international diplomacy vs domestic policy.

You don't need statecraft for policy, just the majority of votes.


Firebrand-Xana t1_isxveh6 wrote

We should get scientists to move near areas that require an informed populace to vote on stuff. The populace will be more informed, and less sane.


ddrcrono t1_isvxjdr wrote

Just have the contracts written out where the pay / incentives are over a longer term rather than being a lump sum. 95% of humanity's problems are that the terms we think in and our focus is too narrow / short-term like we're still living in the jungle and have 45 year life spans or something.


German_Not_German t1_isvw4x4 wrote

Oh my sweet summer child you are not familiar with academia at all. It makes the political scene look sane.


Koda_20 t1_isvwo34 wrote

An ironically this seems to be what half of Reddit thinks LOL


hatchway t1_isw3qso wrote

Gardener / urban farmer here. You can't just put a random baby tree in dirt and expect it to thrive, especially with heavily depleted or polluted soil (which I imagine they're planting in). Baby trees are also extremely sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, to the extent that about 3/4 of the ones I plant are guaranteed to die without continuous attention. Not possible for a whole forest.

The answer isn't to plant baby trees - it's to spread tree seeds, if possible with mulch and light tilling / harrowing. In my experience, plants that grow from seed have a much better chance in a low care / unsupervised situation, because they'lll adapt to the surrounding moisture, fertility, PH balance, and micro-organisms right from sprouting.


remi_pan t1_iswrm37 wrote

The article has a similar conclusion:

In fact, many forest ecologists say creating space to allow nature to do its thing is usually a better approach to restoring forests thanplanting. “Allowing nature to choose which species predominate … allowsfor local adaptation and higher functional diversity,” argues oneadvocate, Robin Chazdon of the University of Connecticut, in her book Second Growth. For mangroves, Wetlands International now recommendsabandoning widespread planting and instead creating areas of slackwater along coastlines, where mangroves can naturally reseed and grow.


hatchway t1_isyq3a5 wrote

The Hidden Lives of Trees dives deeper into the mechanics of forest ecology and this is 100% in agreement with its insights.

One of the issues to be aware of with allowing re-growth, though, is that certain species tend to absolutely dominate in clear-cut situations, so you need to selectively harvest to allow partial shade to exist.

Douglas Fir, for example, grows super-fast in sunlight, so most second-growth forest you see around here (western Washington) is like 60-95% Doug. Monoculture forests are bad because insects and diseases can jump from tree to tree much more easily, and different species accommodate different environment conditions better (allowing a portion of the forest to hold groundwater during droughts, for example).

However, this is better than no trees, and the issue generally solves itself overtime as species that grow better in shade (hemlock, maple, cedar) start to sprout and grow to full size, giving a diverse forest.

Just need to be careful, because sun-grown Dougs (and many other trees) are softer and spongier than shade-grown counterparts. Far less resistant to fire, bugs, and fungus... meaning there's a decent chance a careless accident can destroy a second-growth Doug-dominant forest before other species have the chance to start sharing the space. (Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares covers forest succession as it applies to PNW forestry and it's fascinating, if a little more dense and academic)

Despite those caveats, this approach is still superior to planting baby trees raised in greenhouses and utterly lacking an "immune system" for the soil and climate in the particular spot they're planted.

Clearly I have a lot to say on this, but I'm too stupid to be a scientist and too lazy to podcast, so I'm stuck making Reddit comments.


galspanic t1_isvkqct wrote

What they need is tree farms - those things are worthless if the trees die.


filosoful OP t1_isu33wz wrote

High-profile initiatives to plant millions of trees are being touted by governments around the world as major contributions to fighting climate change.

But scientists say many of these projects are ill-conceived and poorly managed and often fail to grow any forests at all.


Sleepdprived t1_isvck3t wrote

A forest is a vast interconnected web of organisms dependant on one another. You can't just plant a monoculture of trees without support species and call it a forest.


AMassofBirds t1_isyqaxh wrote

Was gonna say the same thing. I live close to both wilderness areas and tree plantations and there is a massive difference between a tree plantation and an actual forest.


Powermonger_ t1_isv3dzv wrote

Just do what China does, plant the trees, wait for them to die and then paint them green. Instant green forest!


phitfacility t1_isvhtwn wrote

It's like recycling plastic, all that crap goes into the trash. It helps people feel better though


Lugnuts088 t1_itl5bix wrote

Recycling was touted by plastic producing companies to convince us everything is OK and to keep on buying plastic. They did a great job at this.


Imadope_1960 t1_isvf4gw wrote

They will give out some money to start the project but getting it finished usually costs more than the rich want to spend.


Still_Difference5461 t1_isvt86y wrote

Even if only 2 percent survive out of a million then that’s still 20000 trees. And they will make offspring. It would be better if it had a higher success rate but honestly it’s not uncommon for many saplings and seedlings to fail. That’s why trees and plants produce thousands of seeds and not just a few


Bestihlmyhart t1_isuc2k3 wrote

“Right tree, right place” is what they say in the tree biz


scdirtdragon t1_isu90pn wrote

Almost like these things are always PR things and are rarely actually thought out. From the article:

The muddy planting sites were washed by storms and waves and were otherwise “ecologically unsuited to mangrove establishment, because they are too waterlogged and there is no oxygen for them to breathe.”


onyxengine t1_isud9j2 wrote

Sounds like embezzlement and government corruption.


godlords t1_isuimrf wrote

Can we focus on stopping Brazil from mowing down the Amazon first?


4art4 t1_iswfo9m wrote

How do "we" stop Brazil, realistically? They don't seem to care right now.


roostertree t1_iswktf6 wrote

Yes, but no.

Yes b/c that absolutely needs to happen.

No b/c it'd be colossally reckless to decide complete that almost impossible task before starting any other environmentally positive endeavour.

EDIT one word was unintentionally inflammatory. Sorry.


SomberPony t1_isv2zbi wrote

This is idiotic for fighting climate change.

  1. the problem is caused by the combustion of mined hydrocarbons for energy. That is the problem right there. As long as we combust hydrocarbons for energy, the problem is getting worse. Until that is reduced to zero we are making the problem worse.

  2. trees are wonderful things. They are also bad for removing carbon from the atmosphere. Here's why: the oceans are in equilibrium with the atmosphere. When carbon is removed by trees, the oceans off gas more CO2. Trees take time to grow. Now, theoretically, if you collected leaves and put them in a mine or some other anerobic environment where they wouldn't rot, that would remove carbon, but it would be horribly inefficient. Otherwise, when that tree dies and rots between 50 and 100% of that carbon will go back to the atmosphere.

  3. if you want to seriously reduce carbon, reduce it in the oceans. Again, equilibrium is a thing. reduce it in the oceans and billions of square miles of ocean become your carbon scrubber. That means supporting phytoplanton and sea grass at best, but honestly, industrial processes got us here and industrial processes are going to be needed to get this done quickly. Turn gypsum into quicklime and dump gigatons of it into the deadest parts of the ocean. The CaO bonds with carbonic ions and forms calcium carbonate.

Again: Step one is ending the combustion of mined hydrocarbons. That is step one. Do not pass GO do not collect 200 dollars this is your problem deal with it. Once step one is addressed, THEN we can make things better.


avocadro t1_isvknwc wrote

> the oceans are in equilibrium with the atmosphere. When carbon is removed by trees, the oceans off gas more CO2.

Doesn't this argument imply that the oceans will off gas more CO2 if we stop burning fossil fuels?


SomberPony t1_isvr21x wrote

Correct. There's 4 reservoirs of carbon: the lithosphere (rock), the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the biosphere. The lithosphere holds 99.99% of earth's carbon, in the form of carboniferous minerals, including oil and natural gas. When volcanoes erupt or we dig those minerals up and burn them, the carbon is transferred to the atmosphere. Eventually, life and water move carbon out of the atmosphere and eventually transfer it back to the lithosphere. This process is very, very slow.

We are able to dig up and burn hydrocarbons faster than nature can remove them from the atmosphere. So long as there's photosynthesis and liquid water, eventually carbon gets scrubbed out of the atmosphere. We'd be looking at a cooler Venus style planet otherwise.

If we cut off burning mined hydrocarbons today, natural processes would slowly remove them from the atmosphere. However, that would be counteracted by carbon stored in the ocean to be released. This is why I think it would be better to remove carbonic acid in the oceans and let them absorb carbon from the atmosphere than to try and suck it out of the atmosphere.


Still_Difference5461 t1_isvvvmy wrote

Trees are great for the environment, I think they are worth it. The mass of tree leaves are pretty small compared to the mass of the wood and roots.


SomberPony t1_isvxl3l wrote

You don't get it. I never said trees are bad, fuck the trees. They have a lot of benefits. They are, however, not going to do anything to address climate change. Especially step one. So long as we're burning mined hydrocarbons for energy, the problem is getting worse, not better.

I'm all for trees... once we're not burning mined hydrocarbons.


Still_Difference5461 t1_isw2pz2 wrote

Honestly I think trees do have the potential to address climate change by moderating temperatures, providing a moisture in the atmosphere, sheltering wildlife and people from heat, absorbing water, and creating rain.


SomberPony t1_isw36m6 wrote

And all that is pointless so long as the amount of CO2 goes up. Eventually the heat is high enough that RUBISCO breaks down and plants are unable to photosynthize. Trees are great for many of the reasons you list. They are NOT a solution for climate change.

End burning mined hydrocarbons for energy and then plant as many trees as you want.


Still_Difference5461 t1_isw3q8h wrote

We gotta do both frankly. I hear carbon sequestration would work by planting trees and then cutting them down once they reach maturity. Then you burn the trees for energy, capture the carbon from burning, and bury it along with the ash. So we do need to plant the trees. That is definitely an important part of fighting climate change.


SomberPony t1_iswfyfj wrote

Nope. We have to stop burning mined hydrocarbons for energy. That is our number one priority period. No sequestration, unless it's part of a plan for eventual elimination. Pipelines leak, wells are improperly sealed, and it hasn't been demonstrated that the CO2 can't leak. In addition, as I have said before, at high temperatures, Rubisco breaks down. That means photosynthesis stops of c3 plants.

EVERYTHING that isn't getting off mined hydrocarbons for energy is a distraction. Planting trees. Whinging about agriculture. Sequestration. ALL of it. It's all a distraction from relentlessly replacing as much of our energy with non-mined hydrocarbon sources. That may mean hydrogen fueled aircraft and cargo ships, and electrifying the land based transportation grid. And yeah, it SUCKS when your native land gets a solar farm dropped down on it or you have windmills in your formerly picturesque ranch view. Know what sucks more? Burning alive in forest fires.

Once again, once you've achieved not burning mined hydrocarbons for power, plant all the damned trees you want. I'll lend you a shovel. But that is step two. It will never fix the problem, only delay it.


Still_Difference5461 t1_iswacpf wrote

Also those were mangroves too so planting those is also about managing floods and reducing erosion, not just co2


SomberPony t1_iswg2q4 wrote

Sure, but that is a local problem. Climate is global, and hits EVERY locality, and so it takes priority.


Still_Difference5461 t1_iswhhjp wrote

I dunno man, people have greater ability to solve local problems than global problems.


SomberPony t1_iswjdnc wrote

Actually, no. The banning of CFC's is a great example. CFC's were destroying the ozone layer. Nations agreed internationally to ban their production and use. Those bans were enforced and now the ozone layer is regenerating.

Developed nations need to help developing nations to adopt non-mined carbon fuel sources with grants and interest free loans. Them having the technology is more important than making them 'pay' for it.


ltethe t1_isuqgoa wrote

In 09 I was in Beijing in a newly planted forest. Probably about 10 years old, about 10 feet between each tree, all planted in perfect rows, no undercover, just trees. Lots of people walking through it as well, like it used to be a road or plaza or something. Really strange because even though you’re surrounded by trees, you can see forever down the parallel lines…

I don’t think it was a carbon sink or anything, it probably was planted to hide something along the way to the Olympic venues or something, but I’ve always been struck at how odd a manufactured forest is.


Alis451 t1_isus8oh wrote

if it is in a city it also acts as a heat sink, counteracting the urban heat island effect. also trees growing near roadways LOVE the bonus CO2 concentrations, they make sweeter maple syrup too(fewer gallons of sap required)


ltethe t1_isuvjxv wrote

That I didn’t know, thanks for that nugget.


diggertb t1_isuueoh wrote

This was from the Great Green Wall initiative that started in the late 70s. It was a relative failure early on because they planted what they hoped would work as plants, not what the regions supported. It was a seemingly honest attempt at doing good for the environment that was just flawed, but does continue until today and has gotten better.


Hoverkat t1_iswp423 wrote

It's cheaper to plant trees in row. The plan is that over time they'll turn into a real forest (atleast where I'm from.)


Gilgie t1_isucnci wrote

Why would they call it a disaster? Failure, sure. But it didnt hurt anything. It just wasted a bunch of peoples time.


bxsephjo t1_isugii8 wrote

It's fair to call something a disaster if lots of effort and money leads to no results, especially when some people have left still thinking good work was done.


Gilgie t1_isukw47 wrote

People need to stop watering down terms by overusing them to support hyperbolic statements. Words need to mean something.


ImperialSympathizer t1_isv1zhf wrote

This isn't watering down the term. Diverting and wasting millions of dollars that could've actually benefitted the climate is absolutely disastrous.


WreckNrun t1_isvg43z wrote

It's so fascinating watching someone be stupid so eloquently.


Secure_Cake3746 t1_isudf3o wrote

The problem is businesses are using these to cut their carbon tax and dont do anything to make sure the forests stick.


Tastoe t1_isuz2kq wrote

Anything that's done without proper planning, and in a phased out manner, learning from previous phases is doomed to fail. Especially if it involves nature.

Such fanatic and wasteful efforts actually undermine genuine small scale efforts by NGOs and groups.


BBZL2016 t1_isv9m7a wrote

At the bottom of the article:

"In fact, many forest ecologists say creating space to allow nature to do its thing is usually a better approach to restoring forests than planting. “Allowing nature to choose which species predominate … allows for local adaptation and higher functional diversity,” argues one advocate, Robin Chazdon of the University of Connecticut, in her book Second Growth. For mangroves, Wetlands International now recommends abandoning widespread planting and instead creating areas of slack water along coastlines, where mangroves can naturally reseed and grow."

I would also argue, due to mismanagement and improper planning that another reason these fail is because in some areas trees are being planted in areas completely devoid of healthy functional soil.

A lot of times we see photos of people planting in areas that look like deserts, there is a reason the ground looks like that. How is a tree supposed to grow if native grasses don't even grow there? Working on soil health should go hand and hand when it comes to mass planting.


jamesdcreviston t1_isvehlp wrote

I’m surprised that we don’t take food waste and things that are biodegradable and use that to compost the dead soil. There was a orange producer in South America who dumped their orange rinds into bad land that then turned into an amazing forest.

Maybe letting biodegradable waste go back into nature to provide food for worms, bacteria, etc is the best way to go?


silenttrunning t1_isvoh0q wrote

>and a lack of aftercare such as watering saplings.

I thought that was almost a trope: it's easy to plant a lot of trees. It's much harder to tend to them for the months (or years) it takes to get them to thrive on their own. Even then, there's no guarantees that some fungus, mold, or a natural event couldn't erase all that effort instantly.


SiegelGT t1_isv3828 wrote

Trees need to be planted where trees can grow. Why plant trees in a prairie?


FuturologyBot t1_isu7xc7 wrote

The following submission statement was provided by /u/filosoful:

High-profile initiatives to plant millions of trees are being touted by governments around the world as major contributions to fighting climate change.

But scientists say many of these projects are ill-conceived and poorly managed and often fail to grow any forests at all.

Please reply to OP's comment here:


UndefinedDecoder t1_isvlfoc wrote

I'm in Northeastern New Mexico. We were evacuated because of the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon wildfire earlier this year. We're back now to watch helicopters "re-seed" the burn scars here in the mountains. They've had 3 to 5 helicopters DAILY for 3 weeks doing this "re-seeding" project. Can someone give me an estimate on how long one of those can stay in the air before refueling? These are single prop and single tail stabilizer helos not unlike what are used for rescue missions in mountainous areas. Let's take their tank size and multiply it by the price per gallon for jet fuel and that times the 8 hours a day they're in the air every day and multiple that by 4 or 5 to get the cost of fuel alone for 1 day? It's rediculous the money spent here.


seedanrun t1_isvt19m wrote

>The muddy planting sites were washed by storms and waves and were otherwise “ecologically unsuited to mangrove establishment, because they are too waterlogged and there is no oxygen for them to breathe.”

Mangrove trees breath oxygen? What?


callmefreak t1_iswe11v wrote

I'm not an expert on trees, but maybe trying to grow trees on dirt that dry is the problem?