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‘Green’ measures are “epic fails” for climate and biodiversity

  • by J.W.

“Humans need to get much better at developing climate solutions that work in favour of nature.”


Simply ‘planting trees’ is not going to solve climate change:

The Royal Forestry Society fears planting millions of trees risks being a short-term indulgence if we don’t then commit to long term sustainable management. And it says this must start with recognising timber as a carbon store.

Agroforestry: growing not planting trees is the key – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Planting trees isn’t the only means of carbon sequestration so perhaps a more considered, joined-up approach could be taken to looking at a range of solutions? Agroforestry may provide an alternative to woodlands that goes hand-in-hand with regenerative agriculture, increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable way.

Planting trees: where, what and why? – Vision Group for Sidmouth


Moreover, it’s not just trees which ‘breathe in carbon’:

Peat bogs are a vital and precious habitat. Not only do they provide sanctuaries for a wide range of wonderful wildlife, including the Large Heath butterfly, they also act as a natural defence against climate change, absorbing vast amounts of carbon.

Using peat-free compost – Vision Group for Sidmouth


And releasing a lot of carbon by plastering our landscapes and coastlines with concrete is clearly counter-productive:

We need to be reducing our use of asphalt – made up of tar (which is oil) and concrete (which is one of the biggest users of carbon in production).

Futures Forum: Climate change: and concrete: “the massive CO2 emitter”

Alternatives to asphalt concrete – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Should we be depending on the extraction of sand and gravel? 

Futures Forum: The next sustainability crisis: Humans are using so much sand that we may actually run out

Futures Forum: How sustainable is the construction industry? >>> Mining for sand >>> “to protect our waterways and beaches, we must look for alternative building materials to supplement the use of concrete”

Beach Management Plan: “an unsustainable reliance on material for recharging the beach” – Vision Group for Sidmouth


The i-newspaper’s Environment Reporter, Madeleine Cuff, looks at these issues and more:

Winning on climate, losing on wildlife: Scientists warn against ‘green fails’ doing more harm than good

Some of the world’s most respected scientists have hit out at supposedly ‘green’ measures which have turned out to be “epic fails” for climate and biodiversity. In a major new report 50 of the world’s leading biodiversity and climate experts warn narrow actions to reduce carbon emissions – such as inappropriate tree planting – are environmentally dubious. Humans need to get much better at developing climate solutions that work in favour of nature, the team from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) said… 

They listed a host of examples where well-meaning efforts to reduce carbon emissions have had a detrimental effect on wildlife and biodiversity, and in some cases even increased carbon emissions.  

In the UK, planting trees on carbon-sucking peatlands has been an “epic fail for climate and biodiversity”, according to Professor Pete Smith from the University of Aberdeen. 

Replacing mangroves and salt marshes, which act as natural coastal buffers and carbon sinks, with high-carbon concrete defences can also do more harm than good. Around 60 per cent of China’s coastline is concrete, a trend scientists say is devastating for the country’s migrating sea birds…  

Winning on climate, losing on wildlife: Scientists warn against ‘green fails’ doing more harm than good