The Guardian

Can planting billions of trees save the planet?

Organisations from around the world are reforesting at an unprecedented rate
Volunteers plant mangroves in Indonesia. Photograph: NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

When Clare Dubois’s car skidded on an icy road in Stroud, Gloucestershire, a tree prevented her vehicle tumbling into a ravine. It was, she says, a sign. Humanity is nearing a precipice. Trees can stop us going over the edge.

This calling was so strong that Dubois, a business life coach, founded TreeSisters with a friend, Bernadette Ryder, to take on a daunting mission: to reforest the tropics within a decade.

In 2014, their new charity funded its first 12,000 trees by encouraging western women to make small monthly donations to reforestation projects in the tropics. Today TreeSisters is planting 2.2m trees (average cost: 33p a tree) each year across Madagascar, India, Kenya, Nepal, Brazil and Cameroon.

“We have to make it as natural to give back to nature as it is to take nature for granted,” Dubois says, musing on the need to “shift from a consumer species to a restorer species”.

She is not alone. The global elite is embracing tree-hugging rhetoric. It is as if the world has suddenly woken up to the restorative powers of plants.

Forests can stop runaway global heating, encourage rainfall, guarantee clean water, reduce air required to provide a good chance of stabilising global heating below the .

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