Restoring the earth

Dr. Huidae Cho
Institute for Environmental and Spatial Analysis...University of North Georgia

1   Definitions

  • Deforestation: The conversion of forest to another land use or the long-term reduction of the tree canopy cover below a 10 percent threshold. Permanent or long-term.
  • Primary forests: Forests that have never been logged and have developed following natural disturbances and under natural processes, regardless of its age.
  • Secondary forests: Forests regenerating largely through natural processes after significant human or natural disturbance, and which differ from primary forests in forest composition and/or canopy structure.
  • Disturbed forests: Any forest type that has in its interior significant areas of disturbance by people, including clearing, felling for wood extraction, anthropogenic fires, road construction, etc.
  • Frontier forests: Large, ecologically intact, and relatively undisturbed forests that support the natural range of species and forest functions (WRI definition).
  • Forest plantation: Planting and/or seeding in the process of afforestation or reforestation. Consists of introduced species or, in some cases, indigenous species. Also called silviculture.

2   Protecting and restoring forests


  • Stabilize the soil
  • Prevent landslides and flooding
  • Convert CO2 into O
  • Need to be protected

Planting lost forests

  • Essential to restoring the balance to Earth’s natural system


3   Clearcutting

Environmentally devastating

Erodes soil

Silts streams, rivers, and irrigation networks

The alternative

  • Selective cutting only mature trees
  • Leaving younger trees to grow and be cut later



4   Mountaintop removal

Forests on our mountains very near us are destroyed in order to produce coal for energy.


5   Rainforests

Richest ecosystem on Earth

Contains over 50% of all species of plants and animals we have.

As we lose the rainforests, we are altering the climate of the entire planet.


6   Indonesia

In Indonesia, primary rainforests were the predominant ecosystem in the 1970s.

Logging occurred on a widespread scale.

20 years later, some secondary forests are reaching the maturity for logging to occur again.

Overall, land use has completely and irrevocably changed in Indonesia.

  • Rainforest ⇒ Agricultural cropland, grazing land for livestock, development


7   Urban forests

Trees planted

  • In the sidewalks
  • In the medians
  • Near parking lots
  • In the grassy areas


  • Are vital to the urban landscape
  • Help reduce heat
  • Provide shading canopy
  • Helps with air pollutions (Carbon sequestration)
  • Are really helpful

More trees ⇒ Better quality of city life


8   Local forests

Several forests nearby

Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve

  • About 3 mi from the Gainesville campus
  • Over 1,600 acres
  • Trees over 150-200 years old
  • Young and old trees
  • Extremely large trees
  • Home of the Elachee Nature Center


9   Forest fires

Natural part of the ecosystem (Why wildfires are necessary (4 mins))

Drought conditions—lack of water, rainfall ⇒ California

Georgia usually do not have forest fires of this magnitude.

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10   Planting trees to sequester carbon

Every newly planted tree seedling in the tropics

  • Removes an average of 50kg of CO2 from the atmosphere each year
  • During growth 20–50 years

Billions of trees need to be planted on millions of hectares of degraded land.

  • We’ve been doing a lot of logging for the past 50 years

Stopping deforestation and planting trees are relatively inexpensive.

Some organizations give out free tree seedlings.

  • e.g., Arbor Day Foundation

11   Conserving and rebuilding soils

“Loss of protective vegetation”

Tree shelterbelts (windbreaks)

Strip cropping

  • Different crops in alternate strips to prevent soil erosion

US government pays farmers to plant fragile cropland with grasses (not sod) or trees

Conservation tillage

Africa, China, Israel: Planting trees to stop desert

Watch this new technology in China that converts desert into productive land rich with crops (12 mins)

How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change | Allan Savory (22 mins)

tree-shelterbelts.png strip-cropping.png

12   Regenerating fisheries

Not commercial fish farms

Fisheries refer to areas of natural water bodies with marine diversity.

  • Lakes
  • Streams
  • Oceans

Coral reefs are dying because of the acidity of the oceans and rising CO2 levels.

  • Great barometers

Establishing marine parks limits fishing and prohibits mining and oil drilling.

Protecting these ocean areas will allow fish populations for food consumption to replenish over time to a balanced state.

13   Protecting plant and animal diversity

Two essential steps

  • Stabilization of the human population
  • Stabilization of the earth’s climate

1973 US Endangered Species Act

Parks and wildlife corridors

  • Areas set aside for animal migration


14   Benefits of reforestration


  • Are a large source of fresh water
  • Prevent soil erosion
  • Filter and supply fresh water
  • Remove harmful air pollutants

U.S. forests offset between 10-20% of carbon emissions each year ⇒ Mitigation of climate change

Reforestation brings back all these benefits to us.

15   Why is our land greener?


16   Forest resources of nations in relation to human well-being (Kauppi et al. 2018)

Countries with a high Human Development Index (HDI) see increasing forest growth

Countries with a low HDI see increasing deforestation

More development & commercialization ⇒ Reforestation?

17   Reforestation vs. deforestation

Net forest loss ⇒ Net forest gain

  • Can be political, not just environmental
  • Developing countries ⇒ Weaker environmental policies

Process known as “leakage”

  • Outsourcing wood products ⇐ Poorer countries
    • Wooden furniture
    • Paper pulp
    • Etc.
  • Vietnam
    • National increase in forest cover
    • Sharp increase in imported wood


18   Reforestation

Plantation of oil palm and rubber ⇒ Technically reforestation

  • Ecologically not much beneficial

Supposedly naturally-recovered forests

  • Not as biologically diverse and well-functioning as natural forest

What are the motivations for reforestation?

  • Exotic foreign species over native species?
  • Felling for wood extraction?
  • Money?
  • What about nature, environment, human, and sustainability?

Prevent damage in the first place!

19   UN’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs)


20   Impacts of SDGs on deforestation

Improved education (SDG 4) ⇒ Reducing deforestation

Increasing GDP (SDG 8) ⇒ No statistically meaningful link with deforestation (Koop and Tole, 1999)

High levels of inequality (SDG 10) ⇒ Increasing deforestation (Koop and Tole, 2001)

Improved gender equality (SDG 5) ⇒ Decreasing deforestation (Agarwal, 2009)

Peaceful relations (SDG 16) ⇒ Decreasing deforestation (Nackoney et al., 2014)

Achieving global food security (SDG 2) (Tscharntke et al., 2012), meeting energy needs (SDG 7) (German et al., 2011), and developing sustainable infrastructure (SDG 11) (Laurance et al., 2009) ⇒ Careful planning and monitoring

21   Deforestation effects on climate

Deforestation effects on climate (5 mins)