From Audubon, no less. The article is entitled “As Ugly As A Tree” and can be found in the latest issue.
Americans are on a tree-planting binge, on the premise that jamming seedlings into the ground can offset carbon pollution. In truth, they’re causing a lot of harm. Tree-planting outfits are sprouting like kudzu. We have the Plant for the Planet campaign by the United Nations, Global ReLeaf by American Forests (said by some, mostly itself, to be the nation’s oldest “conservation” NGO), the Enterprise-Rent-a-Car 50 Million Tree Pledge, and all manner of ambitious ventures by the National Arbor Day Foundation, the National Tree Trust, SeedTree, Tree Central USA, Tree Musketeers, TreeFolks, Tree-Mendous, TreePeople, Trees for Life, Trees for the Future, Trees Forever, and Trees for Tomorrow, to mention just a few.
The public doesn’t understand that forests and trees are not the same thing. Forests are comprised of many organisms, only a few of which are trees. Planting monocultures of alien trees or even native trees doesn’t restore forests; it prevents them. This is why naturalists find recurring pledges to plant, say, a “billion trees” so terrifying…
Having engaged such formidable labor as the Boy Scouts, the United Nations’ Plant for the Planet campaign now vows to cluster-bomb the globe with “a billion trees”—all in 2007. As part of this effort it encourages faux-forest monocultures, or “sustainably managed plantations,” as it prefers to call them. But few plantations are “sustainable,” and most deplete water and require massive chemical fixes of fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides.
But of all the damage done by ill-considered tree planting, none is more dangerous than the false sense of absolution provided by “carbon offsetting,” a booming industry in which greenhouse-gas polluters and governments constrained by the Kyoto Protocol purchase supposed mitigation by, among other things, paying someone to jam seedlings into the earth.
Denis Hayes, president of the Bullitt Foundation, an environmental grant maker, likens the worst offset programs to “indulgences”—the pre-Reformation get-out-of-jail-free cards hawked by the Catholic Church. (Go and sin no more—unless, of course, you pay us off.) “We tend to use ‘cap-and-trade’ as a single word,” Hayes told me. “But there’s capping and there’s trading, and my concern is with all these people treating offsets without any cap. Someone is buying someone else’s emissions, but that may not do anything to reduce total emissions.”
I guess we could have expected this, considering the biggest proponents of tree-planting and cap-and-trade systems are the politicians. Nonetheless, you’d never expect that tree-planting would ever be harmful, or, at least, harmful enough that Audubon would be telling us to stop – and with such strong language.
I would recommend reading the article in its entirety. Lots more where the above came from.