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Is planting trees always a positive trend?

Forest fires, deforestation of different ecosystems, planetary climate change, and other environmental factors, have led to a tendency to see in the tree plantation a remediation against any ecological catastrophe.

Person planting a tree.

Person planting a tree. / Photo: Rawpixel - Reference Image

LatinAmerican Post | Jorge Guasp

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Leer en español: La moda de plantar árboles: ¿una estrategia siempre positiva?

However, is it in all cases a favorable initiative? Is it ok to plant any tree, anywhere and in any way?

Trees are important for human and wildlife life

According to the report The State of Forests in the World (FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2018), “forests and trees provide important benefits to both people and the planet by strengthening the livelihoods, provide clean air and water, conserve biodiversity and respond to climate change. ”

But even when we believe that tree planting is always positive, there are factors that we must take into account in order for the introduction of forest species to be successful, and does not have negative effects.

Consequences of planting invasive species

"Invasive species are exotic species, that is, from other regions or continents, that human beings have introduced into the environment, and that reproduce in large numbers generating an impact on biodiversity, ecosystems and human well-being," says the Chilean Aníbal Pauchard, founder and director of the Laboratory of Biological Invasions, in an interview granted to the BBC.

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Some species of pine invade the environments in which they are introduced, replacing the native flora. “The murrayana pine has invaded thickets, meadows, pastures and open forests in New Zealand. Ponderosa pine has invaded disturbed sites in Chile, while in New Zealand it invades meadows and shrubs. Finally, Oregon pine has invaded Mediterranean forests in Spain and is also invading the Patagonian forests of Chile and Argentina ”in exotic coniferous plantations in Patagonia: the risks of planting without proper management of the magazine Ecology Austral

Conditions for planting trees

In urban areas, where the space to introduce trees is reduced, it is important to choose the correct species, and to locate them properly. Some trees reach large dimensions and do not adapt to their planting in narrow paths, where they can lift the floor and interfere with power lines, utility cables, walls, ceilings and other structures.

Even if you have chosen the right species, and plant it in a place without the aforementioned restrictions, a key aspect of the implantation is the distance between trees. If the trees are planted in a group and very close to each other, they will compete for light and become tall and thin, a condition that may force some of them to be extracted after a few years.

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Another key aspect is the provision of water, especially during the first months after planting. In this sense, planting trees in containers (with ground bread) improves the chances of survival of the specimens, since the container with soil preserves the set of roots and moisture. Trees with bare roots, on the other hand, have more difficulty adapting to the new terrain, since in their extraction from the nursery the smaller roots are cut, and the root hair loses moisture.

No one doubts the importance of planting a tree. However, like any other environmental strategy, the introduction of new trees requires an analysis of the species to be planted, their link with the environment, the location of the same and the conditions in which they will be implanted and treated in the future. .

Taking these factors into account, we can ensure that the appropriate species are introduced, in conditions that benefit both the human population and other life forms linked to trees.

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