Is everyone getting tree planting wrong? Here’s how to get it right!

When you look at a forest, what do you see? When I was in Kenya last August, I saw two different realities. I walked into forests that were cool and humid, where I could hear insects and birds, small things singing. But only a short drive away, I found myself surrounded by trees that seemed hostile to life. There were no streams and the birds had left. And I started thinking: These days everyone is planting trees. Or claiming to do so. But how can we tell the difference between trees that protect the future of our planet and those that are actually making the climate crisis worse? One of the biggest lies of our times is that planting trees is simple. In fact, there’s so much that can go wrong: if you plant monocultures instead of mixed forests, you end up with ecological dead zones. If you plant non-native species, they could become invasive and end up destroying biodiversity. If you don’t partner with local communities, your trees won’t survive at all. Not all tree-planting is equal. But it’s easy to tell the difference between sustainable and destructive tree-planting, once you know where to look. This is not a forest. This is not a forest either. Both are monocultures, industrial tree plantations of one and the same species, green deserts. One thing you notice when you walk into a monoculture is that the soil is hard, and the air is silent. Monocultures harm biodiversity, because they don’t provide the necessary range of food, shelter and nutrients for life to thrive in all its variety. Monocultures are usually planted to produce cheap timber, rubber or palm oil. These products are generally exported to fuel industrialized countries, leaving their true costs behind: ecological degradation, water contaminated with pesticides, depleted soil, and unfair labor conditions. Since the 80s, these tropical tree monocultures have expanded by almost fivefold. Which is bad news in terms of climate change, too. While mixed forests store massive amounts of carbon, especially as they age, tree monocultures often emit carbon. This is because they disturb the soil and because plantations tend to be grown where ancient forests once stood. Don’t get me wrong: there are some uses to monocultures. For instance, it’s often a good idea for farmers to have a small woodlot instead of getting their timber from a natural forest. But bigger monocultures are almost always destructive. In Indonesia, the conversion of primary forest into monocultures is particularly striking. In the last 30 years, a quarter of the country’s forest cover has been sacrificed on the altar of cheap palm oil. Here’s how it usually goes: multinationals move in, buy land off smallholder farmers, cut down huge tracts of natural forest to make room for palm tree monocultures, which they then cover with copious amounts of pesticides and fertilizers. When the soil is completely depleted after a couple of years, the companies move on to other areas of the rainforest. In short, they treat the Earth as if it was a supply house and a sewer. Despite all this, international institutions like the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, as well as a bunch of government agencies define monoculture plantations as forests. Which is, well, a lie. You might have guessed it: we’re not massive fans of large-scale tree monocultures. Whenever Ecosia plants a forest, we make sure to plant a range of different species that help one another store carbon, regulate the water cycle, restore nutrients to the soil, and promote biodiversity. Like this one we planted in Indonesia on a former plantation. Or this one we planted in Brazil on degraded farmland. So next time someone claims to plant trees, ask them: are you planting mixed forests or monocultures? But it’s not enough for a forest to be diverse. The species that are planted matter, too. When you plant European or Australian trees in sub-saharan Africa, you’re going to throw delicate ecosystems out of balance. These imported species are sometimes invasive, displacing the native species, depleting water levels, and suppressing biodiversity. We therefore prefer to plant native trees, especially those that have become rare. These species have had millions of years to adapt to their local environment, and they’ve become very good at it. So next time someone claims to be planting trees, ask them if they are planting mixed forests or monocultures; native species or imported ones. But there’s something else you should take into consideration when you plant a tree – something that most tree-planting projects forget: people! Not enough reforestation projects deal with the fact that the land they intend to plant on is being used. Planting trees and then leaving forever is bound to fail. The trees rarely survive, and if they do, they’ll probably be cut down again. A better strategy is to put local communities first. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s also necessary for forests to grow back. When local communities have a better quality of life, the financial pressure to sell their land to mining companies, loggers, or big agribusinesses disappears. And when their improved quality of life is directly linked to tree planting, they have a powerful reason to protect these trees, and to plant even more of them. So how can you make sure that trees benefit local communities? In many cases, the trees Ecosia plants provide valuable tree products, such as baobab powder, shea butter, fruits, or Tengkawang oil, just to name a few. Consuming and selling these products is, in the long run, much more profitable than cutting the trees down. Trees also have a positive effect on smallholder farms. They improve soil fertility, prevent erosion, clean and replenish water supplies, and create microclimates that have become a vital resource on a warming planet. So next time someone claims to be planting trees, ask them if they are planting mixed forests or monocultures, native species or imported ones. And ask them it they are engaging local communities at eye level, or just dumping saplings, hoping for the best. But there’s one last thing. In the first few years of their lives, trees are very delicate. So it’s important to care for them and keep track of them. To have a database that tells you exactly where they are, and whether they’ve survived. We track our trees for at least three years, using satellite technology, a monitoring app, geotagged photos, independent auditors, and field visits. In case some of the trees we monitor die, we subtract them from our tree counter. So, you get the idea. This work is pretty damn complex. But we don’t really have a choice. We have to get it right. More and more scientists are saying that reforestation is a top climate change solution. So the next time someone claims to be planting trees, give ‘em a high five. And then ask them: One. Have the trees actually been put in the ground? Are they being monitored or are we dealing with a feel-good, but ultimately unrealistic pledge? Two. Are local communities equal partners in the project? Do the trees benefit them? Will they take care of the trees? Three. Are the tree species native to the area, or are they imported and possibly invasive? And finally, four. Have they planted a mixed forest or a monoculture? On another day in Kenya last August, I met Kiberenge Moraia. He’s 85 years old, and grew up in an intact, native forest. He told me about playing in the river as a child. But in the seventies, a government agency replaced that forest with a pine tree monoculture. Soon after, the river ran dry. Now, Kiberenge’s community is planting native treed with us. And the water — it’s coming back. So no, planting trees is not simple. It’s complex. It’s hard. But when it works, it’s also magnificent. Hi, I’m Joshi and I document Ecosia’s reforestation projects. Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees. It works like any other search engine except that we use our revenue to plant trees all over the world. If you’d like to see more videos like this one, make sure to subscribe to Ecosia’s YouTube channel. Thanks fo watching!

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100 thoughts on “Is everyone getting tree planting wrong? Here’s how to get it right!

  1. I hope that this project of Ecosia, reaches the Philippines, especially Cebu. Thank you for the quick response to our society's problem right now. Kudos!!

  2. What a nice Explainer Video! Thanks for the clear summary and repitions, it really helped me to have a wider understanding in only 10 minutes <3

  3. Very useful information, many people do not know this. Thank you Ecosia. Also I have a question, is fertiliser use (without pesticides) also bad? And if it is why so? I'm interested in knowing, if it is bad I'll stop using a fertiliser

  4. I hope countries and other organizations listen to this before planting their trees. Our government in my country has just recently pledged to plant a couple billion trees, and I just hope they've consulted the experts on this.

  5. told all my friends about ecosia, now they have joined and i share my tree planting (via searches) with my family. one thing – can you include how many trees i have planted, not just the number of searches?

  6. Mr. Beast: I'm planting trees
    Ecosia: Ok boomer
    Mr. Beast: 20 million of them
    Ecosia: I'm about to ruin this whole man's career

  7. I love this. I love you Ecosia. You are doing so much to inform and do sustainable tree planting. I am so proud to know you exist. I hope you continue to do your work. Our world needs more like you. <3

  8. I love your work with the tree planting Ecosia! But it's hard to keep using your app and search engine. I really hope you guys pay attention to the possible improvements in order to increase your popularity and to be able to make an even bigger change in the world

  9. So, did anyone figure out whether #TeamTrees is doing it correctly? Cause else it's going to tilt a lot of people's efforts in the wring direction

  10. I have a question: what is your suggestion concerning reforestation and other environmental policies applied to a macroeconomic scale and cooperation with governments? After all, a nation's first duty is to it's people and while some environmental policies are lauded as visionary, they are sometimes working against local people and their respective government's pledge to support them. You can't really help the planet or convince people to help the planet if tree lives are worth more than human lives, right? After all, the ability of countries in Western Europe and North America to support eco-friendly policies are caused by their wealth which were accumulated (sadly) through past environmental exploitation.

  11. Monoculture forests make cllimate change worse now? Good gravy, you people never stop. Everything humans do to thrive now is somehow destroying the climate. After a while it just gets boring. Just stop with your junk science antihuman religion.

  12. @5:18 well same goes for people.

    When you let Africans in Europe, you’re going to throw delicate ecosystems out of balance. These imported species are invasive

  13. Japan already made Conifor monoculture mistake, Dedisious Hardwood forest way to go!
    But…An embarrassing 99% of new Urban & Park tree plantings arrive from nurseries with "bottom of trunks already too deep in rootball"!
    Resulting in "trunk strangling roots" after up-potted deep

    4:35…perfect example. No trunk flare at base & circling potbound roots. RIP waisted tree, 25 yr. Lifespan at most.😖

    Bare root plantings best, as one can install stem and taproot at woody organisms "original birth grade".

    Stretching roots out similar to radially outbound Guy wires holding up Tower Antennas also paramount.

  14. Ecosia, in a recent video or statement you say there are 8.5 million active users. The search engine says over 8 million, which I realise is just approximate. In a video lecture by you CEO in June or the Spring, Christian, he said there are 10 million active users. Please can you explain why you have two numbers 8.5 million and 10 million?

  15. Such wisdom in this video!

    "How can we tell the difference between what PROTECTS the future and our planet, and those that are actually making the climate crisis WORSE"

  16. While I do kind of agree with what you are saying, there is a lot more to the story too. We have red pine plantations here in my part of Canada. Monocultures. Dead zones for sure. Red pines are good at growing out in the open so that plantation can grow up and develop nice soil and shade so that when the plantation starts to be selectively cut then there is the right conditions for the more shade loving maple, beech, silver birch, hemlocks and other trees that are characteristic of our old growth forests. So propper management of a monoculture plantation ends up being the fastest way to turn a field into an old growth forest. It is important that there are nearby masting trees to provide seeds for this to happen and it is important that clear cutting does not happen, that removes all the shade that our second generation trees need.

  17. Sorry but mrbeast is doing this thing called teamtrees of where over 600 different YouTube channels collaborate together and to promote teamtrees because teamtrees AND THE ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION IS THE LEGIT AND REAL TREE PLANTING ORGANIZATION THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

  18. Shut up Ecosia because teamtrees is better because the Arbor Day foundation has planted 350 million trees around the globe within just 50 years

  19. Please plane trees in China too! It's now the number 1 emitters of green house gases… Trees are needed there! 🌲🌲🌳🌳🌴🌱🌿🍁

  20. I subscribe to Ecosia and appreciate what is being advised here, however I don't believe soils are depleted in "a couple of years".

  21. I respect not naming companies or people doing it wrong but if Mr Beast is doing it wrong do try to contact him and all the other planters he’s gathered he needs to know and 20 million ( if they reach that number) make sure their not useless in the planets ecosystem.

  22. Doesn't this just make you want to do searches all day ?! 🙂

    P.S. Ecosia, I'm sure you'll agree that the subject of this video is VERY IMPORTANT. If so, please keep in mind that music distracts the human mind and prevents it from focusing. This has and can be proven in so many ways, such as putting people through various tests and exercises with and without music, and then comparing the results. Not to mention the effect of music on water under a microscope, as apposed to natural sounds. Hoping you will take my humble advice into consideration, I wish you all the best. Your brother in humanity (an ex sound engineer / composer / artist who gave up what he loved the most for one reason: Peace – As-Salaam).

  23. I’m glad there are now ads on this channel, I specifically clicked on this video and let the ad play to help Ecosia up their revenue to continue their amazing work

  24. I put about 50 acorns into the ground yesterday (native oaks). Those plantings are scattered among cedar, hackberry, redbud and maples. I am thankful for forests!

  25. Ничего не понятно, но думаю там рассказывается что-то умное. Надеюсь.

  26. Oh my god I just knew about this thank you!!!!! I have always been using Ecosia as search engine since the beginning of the year.

  27. Why are videos criticising reforestation efforts always focused in Asia and Africa? How come you guys never address the lack of efforts to put back forests or grow trees to soak up carbon dioxide in Europe or North America? How come you do not say the same thing or asks the same questions about the massive mono-culture farms of Europe and North America? Why does the responsibility of reducing carbon dioxide made out to be the responsibilities of Asian and African countries?

  28. My humble opinion on the matter. Monoculture plantations are terrible for the native biodiversity, I did many small mammal and insect diversity projects followed by little report writeups at university and almost always found a green desert effect in a planted 'forest' compared to a thriving complex natural ecosystem where all species had millions of years to learn to coexist. Mixed tree plantations including food forests are better than mono but still mostly artificial and still apart of the bigger evil of habitat transformation and essentially converting more and more complex nature into artificial gardens. Yes we need food forests too but it has its place in society, probably closer to urban areas, along with the rise of vertical indoor farming to use less and less space for the current low productivity agriculture systems and make more and more available for rehabilitation and restoration back to nature. Just sad that the value of human life has become so high we'll plough up the last old growth forests and very diverse grasslands and other ecosystems until there's absolutely nothing left just to feed the growing population, just sad that we've reached a point where the value of an ecosystem is determined not by its right to exist or even for it's beauty, but rather by the services it can provide to humans, often monetary based. Cold but true. Natural forests and natural ecosystems are simply the best solution. Why plant trees if one can rather just restore the ecosystem that was there ecologically, whether it's a forest or not and whether it involves planting trees or something else? Sure it can be argued tree wood stores more carbon than grasslands but all of that gets released back into the atmosphere when it's eventually broken down. Several papers out on how planting trees can change the albedo/reflectivity of the surface, and how carbon farming to reduce global warming by lowering co2 in atmosphere can be offset by the increase in surface temperature due to the darkening of the landscape by trees and the consequent increased warming by sun. This of course all depends on the colour of the vegetation that was initially or naturally there, for instance replacing white snowy or yellow grassy ecosystems with dark pine trees won't reduce global warming, it just destroys the biodiversity. They also mention lifetime of furniture made from the trees, conclusion is it all ends up in dump or in fire and thus released back into atmosphere. So much more to the story, so much more complicated, which ecosystem will act as the better carbon sink, which will provide the most services. Also papers out that show how total amount of trees have actually increased over the last few 100 years, both by plantations and Bush encroachment, an increase in woody species over grass/herbs believed to be partly die to the recent increase in co2 coupled with the exclusion of natural fires from farms and reserves. Also papers out of the amount of water trees use and how that can lower the ground water table, so much so that when alien trees are removed from upper river catchments the parched streams starts flowing again. So blindly planting trees and getting a millions of tree hugging viewers to fund it without considering all the literature on the topic, or the area involved, or the ecosystem that was found there, or the water availability of the area and underground is definitely not the sound ecological long term solution we're all looking for. I suggest to just restore as much we can back to natural ecosystems, limit access as much as possible, value them for what they are and for genetic banks for future use, but make them big enough to include most of that ecosystem and it's processes, connect reserves via corridors while attaining more and more land to restore, imagine if all reserve boundaries matched the ecosystem or natural vegetation boundaries, then we can completely delete the ridiculous concept of ecosystem management, park or reserve management, we're not meant to manage nature, that's how you lose it over thousands of years then all of a sudden realize you actually just have an elaborate garden left, pretty but artificial, unnatural in the sense that nature might have followed a different trajectory and ended up with different processes and different species. Nature is the best designer, the original, it designed us and is hence our mother, using the tools of natural selection it created the most beautiful and complex organisms over 3 billion years of evolution, and we owe it to nature to leave huge chunks of the planet unmolested and not trampled, so it can carry on designing more life the way we found it, and so there's at least chunks left in a million years that humans can call true wilderness.

  29. density and soil production are paramount. trees grow better together
    different trees provide different services for each other, deciduous forests are more complex, more dense, make better soil
    although forest should be grown for their own sake, they should also have uses for humans
    highest diversity is most achievable by using all types of plants in balance, not simply native ones.

  30. Guys, if you really want to help Ecosia. They have a merch store where if you buy one of their clothing. They will plant 20 trees. And you can returning, after your done because waste. Also they have this thing called Ecosia Travel. Where if you book a hotel on that site they will plant 25 trees. I'm supporting them and you should too. Also the voice of this video is on the Official Ecosia Podcast. And let's all admit his voice sounds so smoothing.It like he is the new Rob Ross

  31. The consequences of our human consumption and the intention of your organisation just hit me in the chest and gave me tears in my eyes.

    The shituation looks grim but these kinds of initiatives are so hopefull.

    Thanks for this

  32. @Ecosia …Maybe someday we can all plant trees to celebrate life, not kill them and decorate them as some psychopath would do with their kill. Christmas🎄… has become entirely antichrist. The act of such is only one small aspect of how.

    True prolife means ALL LIFE … not just human life ✨🌲✨

    p.s. biodiversity is the best technology. Not biomimicry. Just that the best technology in all the universe already exists in the life forms around us..

  33. What is explained is true.
    But why tell the story with a stupid granny-like sounding voice and repeat some things over and over and over and over and over and over and … , you get the annoying point !
    And then the elevator music on top of it and the silly mood changes in both voice and music, boring. Showing the happily working people is good but using some slow motion effects and too much smirking pictures, come on people, waste of time. The whole thing looks like a politicized feel good advert and that's not necessary.
    In the same time that was invested in this video, which does have a good message, a lot more useful information can be added.
    So, don't waste time, get straight to the point.

  34. Der Titel des Films ist auf deutsch aber der Film selber auf Englisch. Das verstehe ich nicht ich hatte nur Russisch und Deutsch in der Schule. Bin enttäuscht!

  35. Whatever you say for trees applies to humans beings planted in other countries also. (invasive, mono culture, non native people.)

  36. Monocultures are not always a bad thing. Most of Yellowstone is covered in a monoculture of lodgepole pine. There are plenty of other examples of natural monocultures, and they natural and fully functioning ecosystems. Sure if you plant a monoculture in areas that do not naturally have them, you are not mimicking a natural community and wildlife won't use it, but there are many places in the world that do have animals who are adapted to use monoculture forests, and replacing them with a mixed stand would take that habitat away from those animals.

  37. A typical leftist-eco-bullshit about global warming that barely exists. The mono cultures produce same level of oxygen from CO2 as multi cultures. It has absolutely nothing to do whether these are pine trees, apple trees or palm trees, generally speaking of course. First of all it's good to have trees at all! Then we can consider what and where to plant. If you want to stop so-called global warming (a total bullshit IMHO) teach people to plant trees. ANY! "Diversity, sustainability, climate change" it's a language of modern commies that are against progress of mankind.

  38. Im planting Mahogany trees right now. I want know what other trees i could plant side by side with Mahogany tree?

  39. Yes plantations are not forests. One thing I don't love here in Wisconsin is that the forestry is world renowned, but still just very large pine plantations surrounded by mixed forest land

  40. The earth is such a sensitive and soft being – so much specificity in every atom – thank you for respecting that ecosia😍

  41. I'm a big fan of ecosia but this seems like needless fearmongering to compete against things that arnt competition. Idk about every initiative, but teamtrees is partnered with the arbor foundation which answers pretty much every one of your questions. They are good questions to ask but i feel like you don't have to point the gun at other charity organizations

  42. Je pense que planter des arbres feuillus fait tomber la pluie, refait couler les rivières et change le climat … En effet, l’équipe de Lenton et Hamilton (Institut de Zoologie d’Oxford) a montré que tous les arbres, sauf l’eucalyptus et les résineux, font tomber la pluie par l’émission de microbes synthétisant du diméthyl sulfide qui accroît la coalescence des gouttes d’eau des nuages …

    Je réalisais soudain que la pluie ne tombe pas des cieux ; elle provient du sol. La formation des déserts n'est pas due à l'absence de pluie ; mais plutôt, la pluie cesse de tomber parce que la végétation a disparu (Masanobu Fukuoka).

    Donc méfiez-vous des programmes de reforestation à base d’eucalyptus et de pins résineux censés lutter contre la désertification. C une arnaque, ils plantent des arbres dans le but de les couper demain afin d'alimenter l'industrie du bois. De plus, l'eucalyptus et de pins résineux brulent très bien, leurs essence est très inflammable et intensifie les feux de forêt. Alors que les arbres feuillus peuvent diminuer l'intensité d'un feu, voire même le stopper …

    Merci pour les explications que vous véhiculez avec cette belle vidéo ^_^

  43. What products do your trees support. It would be nice to know this so we can also support the people by purchasing their products

  44. Found a really good channel called Save our planet (with a realistic Earth icon) that donates all its ad revenue to things like ecosia and WWF

    It also shares important details about climate change and how you can help

  45. <3 I love you Ecosia. Big tears streaming down my visage as I check in to this home of ours with nothing but pride as we are ELIMINATING all of the reptillian warring manipulating influence of our times Now unprefered by EVERY BEING in the galaxy.

  46. A lot of forests in colonial India were cut down for shipbuilding. While the colonial settlers did reforest most areas, they replaced the forests with monocultures of non-native species. Serious work needs to be done to fix this because India has an extremely large amount of forest land.

  47. Although it's obviously far better to leave primary forests alone, I wonder if, using selective logging, could you still have commercial palm oil cultivation in the spaces left by the logging? Soil fertility etc would be maintained, H20 quality protected & habitat disturbance kept to a minimum: a living with nature approach instead of outright destruction. It would also protect indigenous communities who rely on the primary forests to survive.

    Also in areas that have been clear cut for Palm oil cultivation would it be possible to interplant with other commercial tree crops using say, 3 or 4 species; species that have both commercial value & help to restore & protect soil health in all its aspects in addition to improved local H20 quality?

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