Tree planting is not a simple solution

Tree planting is not a simple solution


Tree planting has been identified as a panacea for environmental problems leading to the initiation of large- scale reforestation projects by governments and non- profit organizations. Many of the top- down reforestation projects have failed and have not been properly done, resulting in negative outcomes e.g., destruction of native grasslands in the savannas, increased social inequity among smallholders and dispossessing the local people.


The authors state that reforestation programs are necessary, however, they should be tailored to the local socioecological context, and should consider potential trade- offs.  Drastic actions should be taken to reduce green- house gas emission and not use tree planting as a substitute for that. Where tree cover is to be increased it should be prioritized, considering competing land uses.  There is a need for careful planning, engagement of all stakeholders and commitment to long term management of the trees. Furthermore, the authors state that to avoid wasting energy and financial resources, a realistic time scale for the projects should be set for them to be successful.


Holl KD, Brancalion PHS. Tree planting is not a simple solution. Science. 2020;368(6491):580 - 581. doi:10.1126/science.aba8232.


  • Environmental Studies Department, University of California, USA
  • Department of Forest Sciences, “Luiz de Queiroz” College of Agriculture, Brazil