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Stop planting more trees! What's often seen as an environmental silver bullet could be disastrous, for humans and wildlife alike

Planting more trees could kill us. Credit: NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images

Planting more trees could kill us. Credit: NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images


December 18, 2020   5 mins

I like trees. Sometimes I come over all Prince Charlesy and talk to ours, even pat their trunks. I have managed woods, written books praising trees, and I practise a bit of “agroforestry”, the farming system which combines trees with grass for grazing by Ermintrude, Shaun the Sheep, and Little Red Hen. But tree-planting in the UK is now a destructive mania. We need a moratorium on trees.

Trees have inexplicably, unaccountably, become the magic wooden bullet for all environmental ills. Anxious about flooding? Well, forget dredging rivers or digging up the suburban concrete drive, just plant a tree. Anxious about the climate effect of your  cheap plane ticket to Thailand? No worries mate, pay a bit extra to get some minion down on Earth to stick a tree in a hole. Trying to win a general election? Commit your manifesto to trees, trees, trees. Oh Jeremy Corbyn at his last tilt at Number 10 pledged that a Labour government would plant two billion — billion — trees by 2040. Or, half of Wales, planted up at commercial density.

The electorate read this as “magic money trees” and shied in the polling booth, though Boris’s government, itself not lacking in amour aboreal (or indeed in the discovery of theurgic trees that fruit GBP), has committed itself to planting a whopping 75,000 acres of trees annually until 2025. The Green Recovery Challenge Fund — effectively an arm of DEFRA — last week allocated almost ÂŁ40m to 68 projects to plant more than 800,000 trees, including 10,000 trees at 50 NHS sites and 12 “tiny forests” the size of a badminton court in urban areas.

Suggested reading
Stop planting more trees!

By Peter Franklin

Everyone is at it, this tree-planting palliative. I do mean everyone. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has decreed that we in the UK need to stick into the ground 90-120 million trees a year between now and 2050 to achieve carbon neutrality. Craft beer company Brewdog has grabbed 2,000 acres of Scottish highland to plant a million trees. The National Trust is on the band wagon; Britain’s largest private landowner has promised to insert 20 million trees into its land over the next decade. The Woodland Trust, meanwhile,  has launched an Emergency Tree Plan. Not enough trees yet? Danish clothing magnate Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne, who own over 200,000 acres of Scotland, are removing sheep and deer across their estates to allow more native woodland. 

Aye, and there’s the first rub. Quite aside from the Povlsens’ self-entitled decision about how to use their land (HG Wells’ Dr Thoreau would have enjoyed their droit de dicatator), the Danish duo’s re-treeing is removing a chunk of land from food production. Sheep and deer are rather good at providing meals from the uplands for us poor humans. Haunch of venison, anybody? Kebab? Num num. 

But tried eating oak leaves? Fir cones?

It all starts to add up, this public and private tree-planting. What remains is the simple arithmetic of farming, because humans, damn them, will eat: abstract land from food production, and you are left with either a lot of food miles from importing enough to keep your population alive, or the intensification of agriculture — with all the associated pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, molluscicides — on the remaining land. It gets worse. If we are not getting protein from an Aberdeen Angus cow up a glen, it is likely we are getting it from a soya bean grown in the Amazon on what was once primary rainforest.

Make no mistake as you read this: the land is already under demand to produce more, more, and then more food. As long as a decade ago, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation warned that the global population would increase by 34% by 2050, to 9.1 billion. It added that “in order to feed this larger, more urban and richer population, food production 
 must increase by 70%”. 

Brilliant, eh? The trees planted in order to save us from climate change … will kill us by starving us. 

The sanctification of trees is curious. They are hailed as carbon sequestors, but so is the grassland on which cows mosey and munch. (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by the way, had deduced that methane from Britain’s ruminants is not causing further global warming.) Trees are lauded as increasers of biodiversity, the lament of our British naturalists being that we only have 13% tree cover and the European Union has 40%. (Continental Europe is always lovely and good isn’t it?) But have these naturalists ever been to the Black Forest? Poland? The Landes region of France? The lot of them, vast tracts of silence and desolation. 

I spend part of my year bang next door to a 5,000 acre forest in France. The parts of it le forestier are able to manage — by chopping and pruning trees to let in the light — are wonderful for wildlife, and nightingales sing there, but the larger unworked regions are dense, dark and conquered by invasive bramble.

So, there is the second rub. Treeland is not intrinsically better for nature. To be cruelly honest, my neighbour Philippe’s chemical corn fields have more wildlife than than most of our neighbouring natural forest. 

Undeterred by such freely available trans-European evidence, the Rewilding Britain pressure group of Britain reported this week that it wants native woodland to regenerate through the natural dispersal of seeds. Unfortunately, without a management plan — and I looked in the small print in vain for such — this is a recipe for an immense soundless mausoleum propped up by wooden pillars. 

I know. It goes against the grain, but if we do have to have trees for biodiversity they need to managed, not left to their own darkening devices. Trees are hegemonic. Unchecked, trees would take over the world and place it under their shadow. 

Now for the next and third rub, prompted by the clan chief on the Isle of Skye, Hugh MacLeod, deciding recently he needed to go wild and reforest 572 acres of his  Scottish  outcrop (that sense of territorial entitlement again) courtesy of a handy ÂŁ1 million grant from the EU and Holyrood. According to chief MacLeod the island’s lack of tree cover is “not natural.”

Neither, I suggest, is living in a castle. If you want “natural”, Hugh Magnus MacLeod of MacLeod, try a cave as your abode. 

Mark my words: such reforesting is the thin end of the re-wilding wedge. Macleod has already signalled his intention to reintroduce beaver. The wolf and lynx will follow, and Skye will become a rewilded theme park, with the food — no longer produced locally, of course, because all the shepherds will have been transformed into tourist guides — coming over the sea on a bonny, smoky, diesel-engined boat. 

Britain is an agricultural country. It has been farmed since the Neolithic period, and today’s open landscape would be absolutely recognisable to an Anglo-Saxon. These isles’ celebrated “quilt-pattern” of fields and hedges is the work of people, the result of agri-culture, and is not to be lightly thrown aside, or forested over. The farmed countryside is “the past speaking dear” as the Poet Laureate John Masefield once put it. It is heritage. 

Take the Lake District, beloved of  that other great pastoral poet, Wordsworth. The hills of Cumbria were revealed into glory from their scrubby oak and rowan shroud by the farmer’s iron axe and the gnashing teeth of his/her sheep. And well done them. 

Really, why vaunt “natural”? Some of the best places for the wild things are actually human made — meaning, the farmed environment. A traditional hay meadow may  easily contain 30 plant species per square metre. The overwhelming majority of ponds in the British countryside — and there are few things better for the bugs, birds and beasties than a mere — were dug by the farmers of yore. Now there’s an idea for mass government funding: restoring Britain’s ponds. 

That rasping sound? Me grinding my farmer’s axe. The carbon-sequestering benefits of planting trees are frequently hyped yet rarely weighed against what existed there before — such as peaty moorland burnt regularly to renew the heather. Peatland is a particularly efficacious carbon sink. 

In fact, the tree-planting proposals put forward by some conservation organisations will actually annihilate precious ecosystems. The reforesting map drawn up by Friends of the Earth and Terra Sulis marks out as suitable land the rough pastures of the North Pennines and Yorkshire Dales. Er, these farmed and thus awful “artificial” habitats are critically important for the iconic, red-listed curlew, lapwing, grey partridge and black grouse. 

Not much of a deal, is it — if, instead of the cry of  the curlew, we have the hiss of wind through the needles of a Sitka spruce? 

Trees are lovely, but to propose them as the one and only eco-solution is false premise. And false promise.


John Lewis-Stempel is a farmer and writer on nature and history. His most recent books are The Sheep’s Tale and Nightwalking.

JLewisStempel

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Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago

Fully agree with the “deadness” of over-crowded forests.

Surely the obvious answer is to plant the same number of trees – but in many more smaller copses (and hedgerows) instead.

This is certainly something that farmers could be subsidised to do.

This in in turn would help to diminish the dreadful ugliness of the enormous single-crop fields that blight our countryside.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

That’s definitely true. Hedgerows have been a major loss. You can’t read the bucolic musings above without acknowledging that vast monoculture landscapes have been the real alternative to forestry.

Pamela Booker
Pamela Booker
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Thanks to EU policies encouraging prairie farming that requires vast fields and hedgerows grubbed up. Oh, and the loss of over 400,000 small farms in the past 48 years.

Jon Hudson
Jon Hudson
3 years ago
Reply to  Pamela Booker

Pam, we were doing that as a National policy without the need for “EU”.The drivers behind what you describe are big business and government working hand in hand

Not everything is about Brexit,Ă°ĆžËœÆ’

Philip Rowell
Philip Rowell
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

There is a hedgerow protection act, that a lot of council and tree officer do not consult

Linda Baddeley
Linda Baddeley
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Rowell

…or choose to ignore. One has to question why.

Tony Nunn
Tony Nunn
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Regarding the deadness of overcrowded woodland – I grew up in the New Forest in the 1950s/60s and well remember the contrast between the dark, lifeless “enclosures” of alien conifers and the bright, vibrant unmanaged woods of native broad-leaved trees.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Or massive housing estates with concrete underfoot everywhere.

James Pelton
James Pelton
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Those concrete heat sinks are where the climate catastrophists measure their warming.

Jack Tarr
Jack Tarr
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Rather than recreate primeval high forest it might be better to aim for coppice or coppice with standards.

Hardwoods, but not pines or firs, when felled throw up suckers from the stumps which can eventually become full-sized trees. Coppicing uses this phenomenon to generate small-sized timber for such uses as chestnut paling for fencing. In the past hazel coppice sticks were used to provide the framework for wattle-and-daub walls.
Coppice with standards is the combination of coppicing with a certain proportion of trees left to grow to full height. This form of forest management historically was used to ensure that there was a good supply of oak for building houses and ships.

Depending on the species coppiced and the final use for the timber produced, the coppice shoots are harvested on a 5 to 15 year cycle. This is pretty optimum for ensuring that wild flower seeds in the forest floor germinate when the shoots are cut but at the same time, the close of canopy when the coppice shoots are mature helps control the growth of brambles and other tough species which would out-compete more delicate plants. In addition, coppices are more likely than high forest to contain small trees and shrubs which produce nuts or berries, good for birds and small mammals.

A management system like coppice with standards might be the best way to capture carbon. A timber like oak lasts for centuries when used for buildings. Meanwhile, something like willow or poplar coppice could be used to produce biochar – a useful soil conditioner and carbon sink.

Philip Rowell
Philip Rowell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

SO TRUE

Keith Payne
Keith Payne
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Rowell

Actually, it is not particularly true. Crops, and coppice is one, just re-cycle carbon, they do not store it – not unless the wood is retained for ever more. Most of it with be left to rot or be burnt in a relatively short time and the stored carbon released into the atmosphere again. Wood essentially become carbon stores after a few generations when the life there is mature enough to retain most of the carbon captured by the ecosystem. Retaining ancient woodlands or expanding them with suitable trees is much more practicable than planting blocks of unsuitable trees everywhere.

Max Beran
Max Beran
3 years ago
Reply to  Keith Payne

Spot on Keith. It is astonishing that those supposedly intelligent folk on the Climate Change committee could be so ignorant of such elementary and self-evident facts. If trees really sequestered carbon then over time forests and woodland would turn into huge blocks of charcoal. Just shows how compartmented a scientist’s mind can become as to be so smart with physics but so dumb about basic biology.

In fact I would go further and remind those climate science boffins about trees’ impact on the albedo of the land surface. Albedo (the fraction of the incoming solar radiation that is reflected by the surface) is a few percentage points lower than most of the land covers that they would replace like pasture or arable, or even peat moors. A typical “darkening” would be around 5%, but even 2 % reduction translates to 6 or 7 W/sq m of extra warmth retained by the surface so aggravating – more than doubling – the computed greenhouse effect consequent on a doubling of CO2.

There’s also the negative short-term effect of the afforestation process with necessary access of heavy plant, gripping of moorland, drainage and tilling with resultant sedimentation of local streams.

Val Cox
Val Cox
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

Isn’t it true that young fast growing trees consume a lot more CO2 and produce a lot more oxygen than mature ones?

David Slawson
David Slawson
3 years ago

The author should be praised for an article that makes us stop and think. If we do stop and think, the conclusion might be to have ambitious tree-planting plans but to give much more careful consideration to whether trees are planted or left to regenerate naturally, what trees are planted and where they are planted. The right tree in the right place would be a helpful principle to follow. Also, the provenance of the tree is vital if we are avoid importing a mass of new pests and diseases into the country.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slawson

You may praise the author but you seem to be totally disagreeing with him.

Peter Williams
Peter Williams
3 years ago

Made me stop and thinkðƾ˜Ơ

Stefan Hill
Stefan Hill
3 years ago

What you miss is that forestry is also a kind of agriculture. Your efforts as a forester does of course depend on what you want to achieve. In Scandinavia we mostly grow production forests. That is: We are aiming to make a living by harvesting as much timber and pulp wood as possible. This cause one kind of forestry. The Scottish highlands would properly be well suited as production forests. The contemporary use: Sporthunting does not seem to make much sence.

Other places could be forested for other purposes than producing timber. One option could be increased biodiversity. Why not plant aspens by small rivers and then let beavers build dams. The result would benefit all kind of water depending wildlife. The dams would also catch nutritious. Cleaner waters and fertile soil will be the end results.

In more fertile lands it should be possible to create some kind of permaculture. Why not plant fruit trees and use the land under the trees for gardening or as pastures.

Anyway: You need skilled foresters. Why not hire a lot of Swedish JÀgmÀstare?
They are trained in scientific agriculture and we got problems to provide them with suitable jobs in Sweden

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Stefan Hill

The Scottish Highlands, where I live, has suffered from “production planting”. Unfortunately what has been produced is grants and monoculture.

guyharris360
guyharris360
3 years ago

New native woodland schemes (what a large percentage of these ‘millions of trees’ will be), is not for industrial forestry. The planting up of the flow country in the 80s was a mistake, and driven by tax incentives for forestry. That resulted in the monocultures. Native woodland reforestation is not the same thing.

Adrian Grant
Adrian Grant
3 years ago

Monculture bad; a few Grants good!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Stefan Hill

You are quite right. Wood is very expensive in this country.

guyharris360
guyharris360
3 years ago

This article is so horribly oversimplified that it makes me wonder whether the author believes his own nonsence? Or maybe this is satire? The author portrays this as a fight between having trees or agriculture, not both, why? And that trees in the highlands means no deer (thus no venison), or black grouse. This is strange, considering they are both woodland or woodland-edge species! Red deer now live on the high munroes because of the lack of woodland, artifical feeding during winter, and becuase it fits our strange cultural obsession of maintaining what we think looks nice, even at the expense of most other species.

I fail to see why we cannot plant trees to improve biodiversity and store carbon, whilst maintaing our flowering meadows, building ponds, eating vension (!), farming the land, keeping out peatlands etc etc. These things are not mutually exclusive. Occasionally it might be nice to see a landscape that isnt stuck in this cultural rut, but instead supports woodland and moorland species, provides economic opportunites for rural communities, and even helps with flood management so you dont need to destroy a riparian system through dredging!

shinybeast1
shinybeast1
3 years ago
Reply to  guyharris360

Loads of oversimplifications in the whole piece. As if the election result had anything to do with how many trees each party pledged to plant!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  shinybeast1

Vote for me. I can give you 3 million trees by 2040. That will beat them all. Moreso I will introduce tree houses to save the open spaces.

Tony Nunn
Tony Nunn
3 years ago
Reply to  guyharris360

The way I read the article, he’s not saying these things are mutually exclusive, merely that there needs to be a balance, and that there has been something of an obsession with planting trees while overlooking the neglect/destruction of meadows, hedgerows and ponds.

guyharris360
guyharris360
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Nunn

“instead of the cry of the curlew, we have the hiss of wind through the needles of a Sitka spruce?” – that comes across like one or the other to me. And given that most woodland planting is native trees (i.e. oaks, rowan, birch, hawthorn etc), this scarmongering about large swathes of sitka spruce is pretty disigenuous. Not to mention sitka spruce is being phased out of forestry plans becuase it will no longer be viable under climate projections.

Rob Stirling
Rob Stirling
3 years ago
Reply to  guyharris360

I read this particular turn of phrase as him simplifying to make a point – a debating tactic heavily used by all sides in these nuance challenged days. It should not detract from the general thrust of the argument which is that people are lulled into thinking simplistically about planting trees (because it’s cheap, easy and a ready salve to the conscience), rather than thinking more broadly about the the balance between the best means of carbon capture for specific land types, the balance between that objective and biodiversity and, perhaps most challenging, the balance between that objective and the increasing demands for nutrition at historically low and (relatively) decreasing prices. In that context, planting trees is not a one size fits all solution, however much it’s an easier sell as a soundbite. I agree entirely with the points made in your original post, and I think the author does too, even if you think he has failed to make his argument clearly

guyharris360
guyharris360
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Stirling

Your take on the article should have been what it said, but I’m not convinced it did!

Colin Macdonald
Colin Macdonald
3 years ago
Reply to  guyharris360

It’s true that at one time most tree planting, especially in the Highlands, was blanket monoculture. However, even far back as 1990 they were making an attempt to plant trees in a more natural way, I speak from experience here! I think that the author labours under a misapprehension if he thinks that sheep and deer produce a more ecologically diverse landscape. Maybe they do in theory, in practice deer and sheep strip the land of native tree species. We need food, something eco nuts forget, but there absolutely is no shortage of venison running riot in the Highlands, and nobody’s eating mutton either, you can’t make money from sheep, just earn subsidies.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Nunn

Yeah. That’s how I read it as well.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  guyharris360

I think the problem is that farmers struggle to plough to plant wheat in between the pretty trees. Oh and the combine harvesters generally won’t fit.

Look back over the millennia. Generally, when people wanted to grow crops, or graze livestock they chopped the treas down.

guyharris360
guyharris360
3 years ago

No one has ever suggested planting trees on prime agricultural land… we need to eat. But that doesnt mean areas can’t be set aside for woodland creation, like river banks, or steep hill sides where machinery doesnt go anyway.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

But that shouldn’t go on forever should it? Again a balance is needed. It’s many of our cities that need the trees as well to nullify the concrete jungle effect and to help against the carbon effect.

Wulvis Perveravsson
Wulvis Perveravsson
3 years ago
Reply to  guyharris360

I think he’s a nature writer that doesn’t know very much about nature.

guyharris360
guyharris360
3 years ago

Considering unherd rarely makes a foray into environmental journalism this is a shame. It would be nice to see some true experts in their field being given a platform to talk about these sorts of things.

Mark Stone
Mark Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  guyharris360

Really well said!

Richard Martin
Richard Martin
3 years ago

Tre-planting has little to do with climate, and a lot to do with the desire these days to emote with whatever bandwagon has lately rolled into town. I just wish this emoting could be little less mawkish.

Real Horrorshow
Real Horrorshow
3 years ago

Macleod has already signalled his intention to reintroduce beaver. The wolf and lynx will follow…

I wouldn’t be so sure about that. If wolves and lynx start preying on livestock and gamebirds landowners will shoot them, regardless of the law, and get away with too.

The hills of Cumbria were revealed into glory from their scrubby oak and rowan shroud by the farmer’s iron axe and the gnashing teeth of his/her sheep. And well done them.

The hills of Cumbria have serious erosion problems, in large part because sheep farming has left them entirely denuded of trees. It’s possible to have too much of anything and many people think the Lake District has too many sheep.

Colin Macdonald
Colin Macdonald
3 years ago

I dunno, I bet millions of Norwegians, Swiss, French think it’s an awful shame that they can’t appreciate their mountain landscape in full treeless glory.

Wulvis Perveravsson
Wulvis Perveravsson
3 years ago

Quite a few contradictions in this article. Firstly, the Lake District valleys that have deciduous tree cover to a reasonable height have a far greater diversity of wildlife than the treeless ones. Therefore, it seems reasonable that some tree planting would further this interest. Secondly, the author talks about creating rewilding theme parks that rely on tourism. What is the Lake District if it is not a UNESCO endorsed tourist theme park based on pastoralism and the writing and philosophies of the Romantic poets? As a working landscape it is a shadow of its former self, and many of the hill farmers rely heavily on subsidies to survive; we simply don’t eat enough Herdwick lamb or use enough wool for them to prosper. Basically, the only reason they are required is to keep the landscape in the state that tourists expect to see it, a state now set in stone by the World Heritage designation.

guyharris360
guyharris360
3 years ago

hear hear

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘…we simply don’t eat enough Herdwick lamb or use enough wool for them to prosper.’

Why is this? Personally I am more than happy to eat all the lamb you can send my way. Or to wear jumpers and socks etc made from the wool.

Wulvis Perveravsson
Wulvis Perveravsson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think lamb is too expensive for most people to see it as anything other than a treat. And wool clothing is pretty niche nowadays; people tend to opt for the merino variety if they are going to bother at all. I think it’s another case of farmers needing to get better at marketing their own products, like small scale producers of other products have to.

David Gray
David Gray
3 years ago

Lovely rant – and it’s important that we have these discussions before poorly thought out mass plantings take place. But the author clearly isn’t an expert in this area, has a naïve understanding of natural systems and some of the facts are simply misrepresented. Woodlands are incredibly diverse ecosystems, tree plantations often less so. And as for agriculture and food – as Thoreau observed through the farmer’s ox – you can get a lot of food from plants (up to eight times the protein per hectare as meat production).
Still, lets keep talking!

Pamela Booker
Pamela Booker
3 years ago

I’m a great lover of trees and was pleased that there were moves to plant more trees. However, this article has opened my eyes.
Only broadleaved forests should be set and managed. I never did like the proliferation of conifers that was the result of government grants 30+ years or so ago.

Susan Robinson
Susan Robinson
3 years ago

I live in an area that is blighted with sitka monoculture & the process of removing tenant farmers to plant more trees for the subsidy continues unabated. Good practice does exist such as at Carrifran a “wildwood” created by the excellent Borders Forest Trust. My fear is that more disease may be introduced by industrial tree procurement & planting.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
3 years ago

Thanks for an insightful and entertaining article. The taxi I was in recently had a sign saying it was “carbon-neutral” because the company had planted some trees. Those trees will photosynthesize more oxygen than they respires carbon dioxide at first, but when mature (maybe 20 years) they respire more than they photosynthesize, They will be chopped down and will slowly rot, eventually emitting all the carbon dioxide that they ever absorbed. So is the taxi really carbon neutral? Only if the company is obliged to plant more and more trees forever.

Otto Christensen
Otto Christensen
3 years ago

Here in southeast British Columbia our grasslands and their related ecosystems have disappeared over a very short period of time ( less than 100 years) as a result of forest ingrowth enabled by the control of fires. Ironically these new forests are now the source of fuel for massive fires because natural firebreaks, grasslands, have disappeared. Grassland restoration projects have been successful to some degree however the appetite (money) for these projects have disappeared into colossal hydro electric projects that flood millions of acres of forest and ranchlands in order to clean the air in the cities, etc, etc, etc.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
3 years ago

Actually one CAN eat acorns from oak trees ( flour or roast like chestnuts) but for some reason it’s not popular. Besides historically oak trees were the reason why the ship building of this country was so advanced!

It is disappointing to see the ignorance in this poor article given airtime
1. The deciduous forests of England provide extraordinary levels of biodiversity when compared to the chemically treated green deserts of pasture land
2 in most places where trees are planted there were once trees
3. the carbon footprint associated with meat far outstrips the importation of soya from any part of the globe
4. Soya is not the reason why trees are cut down it is because people like to eat a lot of meat and soya is used to feed the cattle. Repeat.: Meat is the cause of Amazon forestry destruction not soya or being a vegetarian.

Charles Kovacs
Charles Kovacs
3 years ago

As I recall the Germans used acorns as an ingredient for ersatz coffee. It was not popular.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

Bit of a rant this, Mr L-S. In fact, a lot of a rant, without much thought in it. I doubt for a start that your neighbour’s over-chemicalised cornfield has any wildlife in it, certainly not compared with wild deciduous woodland.
But then we start to get to the underlying grumble – you don’t want people doing as they like with their own land. Away with the Polvsens and their magnificent stewardship of their west coast estates. Not much food has ever been produced from the heather and the rock, a little from the crofts down by the sea. Down with clan chiefs and the impertinence of their castles and their urge to make their homeland beautiful.
And up with farmers, grinding their axes. I look round the countryside where I live, where the farmers operate their food factories, and wildlife hides in the few remaining hedges and copses. A farming all subsidised on a massive scale. In 30 years time a lot of food will be produced in factories I suspect, vertical farming is already developing fast in the Far East. I’m not sure it will be that tasty or good for us, but at least the wildlife may get the countryside back to live in, and the taxpayers can stop subsidising farmers to destroy the beauty of our landscape.

guyharris360
guyharris360
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

The swipe at the Polvsens was a strange part of the article! Let them do as they please with their land so long as it isnt causing a problem to anyone else. Ask anyone where they would rather go for a walk, the agricultral lowlands of England, or the wild reforested estates of the Polvsen family?!

Jon Hudson
Jon Hudson
3 years ago

Hmmm. Agreed, tree planting isn’t a silver bullet by any means and there is much to be said for Natural regeneration and avoiding planting on existing habitats etc etc.

However, when the author makes statements like “my neighbour Philippe’s chemical corn fields have more wildlife than than most of our neighbouring natural forest” I despair. That statement is false, unsubstantiated and damaging.

Later he states that “if we do have to have trees for biodiversity they need to managed, not left to their own darkening devices”

How the hell does he think the non-human world functioned before we came along to .”manage” it?

It’s a shame because the article does raise some interesting questions but is reduced to opinionated drivel by such baseless statements.

Clearly the author has an agenda…. possibly even an axe to grind ðƾ˜Ɠ

Sophie Korten
Sophie Korten
3 years ago

I love your article and thank you for your hard work and determination. I will share this to many friends and begin a wider understanding in my part of the world here in France. I encourage you to publish this wherever you can and continue your efforts to make this more known in the public area. We need people like you more than ever my lifetime. I am doing what I can to work against negative and destructive things appearing this year. Bisous

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

Point taken. Trees are lovely but there needs to be a balance. Round where I live thousands of trees are felled for massive housing estates which now look like a cement wilderness. They call it squirrels wood where the trees and the squirrels have been wiped out not to mention all the rabbits that lived there. This is the other end of the scale and the truth probably lies in the middle.

guyharris360
guyharris360
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

thats sadly ironic

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

Good article, well said. I was born and brought up among plantations of beech and larch, but my mother’s maiden name was Broadbent and I can’t tell you how much more I love the wide open landscape of agricultural fields with little settlements and old churches and a few ancient trees nestled amongst them under huge sky scapes than the artificially planted, rainy hills of home.

Marianne Winfield
Marianne Winfield
3 years ago

Has the author never heard of food forests? Or planting nut trees? There you can have your forest and eat it. Go to the Agroforestry Research Trust for information on the nut trees that can thrive in this country

Helen Lloyd
Helen Lloyd
3 years ago

From a book by Tony Juniper ‘What’s Really Happnening to our Planet’: More intensive livestock farming has involved the replacement of traditional hay meadows with silage production. UK more than 95% of flower-rich grasslands have been lost, depriving pollinators of vital habitats. Intensification of farming has also led to more & more species of pollinators disappearing from farmland through pesticides & herbicides.

Land use in the UK has changed dramatically & historically forested areas, peatlands, biodiverse areas have been swallowed up. In the UK we also use a staggering 55% of UK cropping land (land that is ploughed and seeded) to grow feed for livestock, rather than food for humans. Globally approx. a third of crops are used for animal feed..90% soya beans, 50% grains, 40% fish go for animal feed. I’m pretty sure new tree-planting will not be in prime cropland. Global environmental studies such as the Oxford Study, the WWF Report: ‘Bending the Curve ““ the restorative power of planet-based diets”- are urging us for environmental reasons & health reasons to move towards fully plant-based diets; what we need to do is maximise use of cropland to grow nutrient dense foods for human consumption instead of for animal use & grow a more diverse range of crops perhaps – legumes are an ideal protein alternative, low in fat, excellent for fibre & fix nitrogen; Hodmedod’s are working with UK farmers growing more of these & ancients grains, quinoa etc. Because plant-based foods are far less land intensive & have far less carbon footprints (see ourworldindata charts) land released can then be used for reforestation, rewilding etc Farmers who do not have suitable cropland can be helped to find other revenue streams such as nature reserves, animal sanctuaries, eco-tourism, CO2 offset schemes etc.

As someone else stated, the Amazon is being destroyed for soya for animal feed & land clearance for cattle ranching – look at EU brands of soya & you will see they are EU grown beans. From NFU stats the UK imports circa 3.3million tonnes soya, equivalent to nearly 49kg soya for every person in the UK & much of it becomes embedded in animal products – far more sustainable to consume edamame beans or tofu instead..you’d struggle to eat that much on a 100% plant-based diet.

“The hills of Cumbria were revealed into glory from their scrubby oak and rowan shroud”? – welcome to the 6th mass extinction, the Anthropocene..with the common attitude that everything on this Earth was put here for human use & that we can do better than nature 🙁

berrychipping
berrychipping
3 years ago

Don’t be silly Mr Stempel. The very reason that we aren’t self-sufficient in food in the UK is that we have given over 70% of our land area to meat farming, the most inefficient use of land that there is. And we still import immense amounts of supplementary food for those meat animals. (A lot more red meat is farmed here than is needed here too.) The 30 million+ sheep that graze vast, vast swathes of our landscape to the knuckle and the beef cattle raised in the immensity of neighbouring steel and concrete sheds are the biggest ecological disasters that this country has enacted. The carbon released to atmosphere at all stages of the meat production and supply chain is vast, yet totally avoidable if we changed our eating habits.
Sheep farmers (don’t call them shepherds, they aren’t) are not out there growing food, they’re out there making money (or trying to).
There is plenty of room to accommodate millions of acres of native woodland in Britain without reducing our ability to feed ourselves. Yes, much of it will need to be “managed” (unless we bring back all the extinct mammals including the Mammoth) and that will provide much more rewarding work than does filthy meat farming.
Just to tread water on the back of the loss of all of our native Ash trees and non-native but hugely useful Larch trees alone, we need to be planting billions of trees.
Meat farming in general and red meat farming in particular is the biggest mistake that humanity has made thus far. It has caused far more of the destruction of the world’s natural habitat and continues to be the biggest contributor to climate change by far.
Get this : 97% of the biomass of (non-human) life on Earth is now man’s livestock animals!!

Mark Stone
Mark Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  berrychipping

Andrew, I am as un happy with this piece as you but I cant let your final comment without comment.

Of global biomass plants are 82% – mainly trees.
Of animal biomass livestock is 4%, humans 0.01%

and the animal biomass is a tiny fraction of the whole

source https://ourworldindata.org/

Rob Wright
Rob Wright
3 years ago

A poorly researched piece of writing. Very little study of where the trees were being planted or referrence to the fact that the land was previously woodland and had been cleared. Millions of acres of woodland were felled to make charcoal and to build wooden warships. The land left to decay and no thought to sustainable use. Less than 5% of ancient Forest remains.
Next time you’re get your facts right.

Mark Stone
Mark Stone
3 years ago

I cant believe this clap trap. The highlands of Scotland should not be heather clad. Find any part of the “wilderness” area of the Highland region and you find tree stumps in the heather. the remains of the first part of the industrial revolution. 1% of the Caledonian rain forest remains – the rest went up the chimney. These areas could and should be reforested. Not with monocultures as the author seems to suggest is what will happen. Re wilding will take a century at least and could be linked with re introductions of large mammals. The resultant wild areas would be considerably more diverse than the sheep farms and deer stalking/grouse shooting options we currently have. It could probably all be done with a reduced subsidy – as a tax payer, I’d like to see that!

I have no idea where this article is coming from. We’re busy telling the owners of the worlds remaining forests to protect their trees and refusing to re-establish our own. What a nerve!

Colin Macdonald
Colin Macdonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Stone

If we just canned the subsidies and allowed the natives to “obtain” their own venison you could rewild the Highlands pretty quickly. It’s always pissed me off that deer belong the landowner except when your car gets totalled by one straying onto the road.
I’d say there’s much more affection for Scots Pines than there is for sheep, most Highlanders are pretty ambivalent about sheep! And I don’t think any Highlander ever looked at Glen Affric and thought it would be better without trees.

John Mcalester
John Mcalester
3 years ago

“Black Forest? Poland? The Landes region of France? The lot of them, vast tracts of silence and desolation. “
Sounds like paradise to me.

Justin Richards
Justin Richards
3 years ago

99% invisible did a podcast specifically on the planting of trees in the 1980s in the UK. Its called ‘For the Love of Peat’. I don’t think I can link to it, but easy enough to find. Basically, they planted a bunch of trees on the peatland because it was cheap, but peat is an incredibly good carbon sink. So the tree planting had the opposite effect.

Like with everything there’s never a simple answer, but its not between food or trees as the article seems to suggest.

Paul Melzer
Paul Melzer
3 years ago

Well, although I agree that planting millions of trees is a wooden bullet and will do little to alter climate, you lost me on “To be cruelly honest, my neighbour Philippe’s chemical corn fields have more wildlife than than most of our neighbouring natural forest.”

Adrian Grant
Adrian Grant
3 years ago

What a load of self-serving nonsense.
There are too many people and their diet is unbelievably wasteful.
How hypocritical it is to try to tell tropical forest nations to stop destroying their forests if we do not acknowledge the errors of our past ways and if we fail to set about doing what we can to restore that which we have destroyed.

This does of course leave open HOW reforestation should take place – and of course it can be done badly if simple profit is the only motive – but this is no excuse for torpidity.

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
3 years ago

Nonsense. The wild forests of Britain 2,000 years ago did not require gardeners to keep them going. Their return would be welcome, and there’s no sense in subsidising sheep and cattle to denude our mountains.

Wulvis Perveravsson
Wulvis Perveravsson
3 years ago

There is if your World Heritage status is based on the landscape having been shaped by hill sheep farming, as in the Lake District’s case.

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
3 years ago

I’d prefer it to be shaped by the forests of 2,500 years ago.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago

Read The History of the Countryside by Oliver Rackham. There was not much wild forest on this island 2,000 years ago. By the early Iron Age (500 BC) half of England had ceased to be wildwood; by Roman times the balance of woodland and agricultural land was probably not very different from what it is now. The landscape is a work of art which dogmatic re-wilders don’t care about.

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
3 years ago

2,500 years ago then.

Philip Hearn
Philip Hearn
3 years ago

Tree planting is a waste of time. Trees will grow anywhere including city street as long as they are not eaten or destroyed. How do you think trees got there in the first place? Tree planting is a commercial idea to produce merchantible yield. Judy.

TP Connor
TP Connor
3 years ago

Good. much useful underlining showing where statements are supported, but NOT under the statement that British ruminants’ methane are NOT causing further global warming ??

goldenoakuk
goldenoakuk
3 years ago

This article represents valid comment but is now laboured and once again here demonstrates a monopic polarisation of the situation. Sadly by voicing such naysayers rhetoric but passionately voicing it thus. Once again the baby gets thrown out with the bath water from an impassioned armchair academics perspective.
It would have possibly been a more balanced opinion peice to state- Tree planting- yes but only in a well understood properly planned and executed, native biased broadleaf polyculture. If not it represents more of the same folly that forestry has shown us over the last 200 years. For the most part damaging and inappropriate. But it doesnt need to be…
There much shorter and more balanced, yeah?

Willie McGhee
Willie McGhee
3 years ago

John, some things to consider when talking about Scotland in relation to sheep and deer. The first is to that you should try and visit south west Norway and observe their mixed forest agriculture economy, same soils and climate as Scotland; different land ownership pattern and land management culture.

Not sure if you are aware of the cultural and environmental roles played by sheep and deer in the Highland (and Lowland) Clearances and the part played by Victorian sporting estates in Highland depopulation. I wont bother laying out the environmental damage that deer shooting plays currently. Check out The Cheviot, the Stag and the black, black oil for background.

Scotland has 6.83 million sheep (2019) ““ we (Scotland) consumed 18 percent of the sheepmeat produced in Scotland, 26 % goes to Europe, although not this week and perhaps not for a long time after Jan 1st. England consumes about 56% (2019 figures).

We have an estimated 1 million deer (all kinds ““ Red, Roe, Sika, Fallow) and we produce circa 3000 tonnes of venison per annum of which 1200 tonnes goes for export and the rest go into retail, mostly posh, mostly urban.

Too many deer, with venison as a luxury, and too many sheep with a small percentage consumed domestically. Not much chance of us being starved of sheepmeat and no opportunities for the great unwashed to eat venison.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago

This is such plain common sense that one wonders why it has taken so long for someone to write it down. Thank you, Mr Lewis-Stempel. A lot is at stake.

I would stop planting trees in our farmland and plant a lot more in the concrete hideosity of some of our cities. Unfortunately the bureaucrats don’t like doing that because it is so much easier planting trees in grass.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

I don’t know about the UK government or the other organisations mentioned, but climate and environmental scientists are well aware of most of these problems, and discuss and research them in considerable depth. Nor do they consider trees a “magic wooden bullet for all environmental ills.” On the contrary, the growing consensus seems to be that even a huge worldwide tree planting program would not be enough to avert the looming climate catastrophe, even assuming the trees are still there in ten or fifty years’ time.

guyharris360
guyharris360
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

This is true, if all we did to prevent inevitable climate change was to plant trees, it wouldnt work. Its something like all land surfaced planted twice over would reduce warming by only 2 degrees (dont quote me on that, but its some crazy figure like that). But it can go some way at a national level, and can be used as one of many approaches. Not to mention the biodiversity, flood management, sediment runoff and nutrient diffusion benefits.

nim.rod77
nim.rod77
3 years ago

its a good topic .. sane approach. but the rhetoric is poor, the argumentation is again flimsy.
i cannot recommend this as much as id like to.

vince porter
vince porter
3 years ago

When good ideas morph into manic, disaster follows.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
3 years ago

We had a paddock and when the horses were gone beautiful copses of varied trees especially oak would grow which we sadly had to hack down and mow every few years for planning purposes, such is the madness of the planning system – Clearing meant more bluebells – The point is if you just leave the land of England to its own devices it quickly becomes natural forest – No grants are needed in fact the less you do the better it seems -Just leave it and it will quickly be like it was before we built the navy with the mighty oaks of England.

Russell Hurst
Russell Hurst
3 years ago

I suppose what would be best, is if farmers learned to make a living off their own backs, stopped taking money off the government to the tune of nearly £20k (average) wage supplement and a £100k for machinery or a barn or a new 4×4 whenever they want one, try making a living, not, taking a living, almost everything a farmer does there is a grant for, even when the government asks them to plant a hedge all they want is a grant for it, the world is mad; because I own some land I can get £9k of a new vehicle no other reason than because I own land. I have run my own businesses for 33 years, never once taken a penny from the government, even though I get offered grants for planting schemes and grants for new buildings/machinery , I just couldn’t, it would be so embarrassing, a bit like Oliver Twist. If you have a business that can’t make money, do something else! Last year I paid nearly £250k in tax when the other 4 farms around me get over £250k in grants between them. ðƾ˜‱

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago

Oh I so agree with you. In front of my Derbyshire cottage is a forest of trees. So what do the Nat. Trust do? Plant more, so us villagers can NO LONGER even see the hills around us and are cut off from even more daylight, down in the dales… And here in France, we had an “Arboretum” inflicted on us (admittedly in a field in the middle of the village, you can’t dream of that being left alone forever, with ONLY Cows and Horses on it!). And the “Arboretum” consists of mainly pine trees, Xmas trees, which we know only too well, they fill the hills behind us!!! And they never stop growing up & up and (not loosing their leaves/pine needles in winter) don’t even give us a bit of extra light then! Common sense, where art thou? and no, the same solutions are not suitable everywhere!!!

Andrew Carter
Andrew Carter
3 years ago

Having attended a farmers meeting yesterday this was an interesting read. A meeting to encourage lapwing nesting in the Hampshire Avon Valley, we did of course get diverted by ELMs and we discussed how we will need financial encouragement to keep open meadows rather than plant cricket bat willows.

Philip Rowell
Philip Rowell
3 years ago

Nice to read an article that I have agreed with for years. We have stopped managing the woodlands we have. I might be bias as a hedgelayer and coppice worker but it is a fact that the first years growth of a coppiced tree or shrub the leaf is a full grown and mature taking in the carbon, this was pointed out to me from a guy that did work for N.England, sorry for forgetting his name. If you replant virgin areas of land or re-forest an area after hundreds of years say they used to be a forest there before the ice age, then surly there should be some fossil fuel there? I would like to see the series that M. Hazeltine made, Finding the ancient forest this was very informative and he did find an ancient woodland, this being off the coast of Scotland.

Ivor Edgar
Ivor Edgar
3 years ago

Surely Dr Moreau, not Thoreau?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

It wont Matter Boris,Keir Want to Concrete over countryside,Farmland &Overturn ‘local’ Planning objections..

Walter Fawcett
Walter Fawcett
3 years ago

“The trees planted in order to save us from climate change “Š will kill us by starving us. ” It’s obviously the plan, remove the humans, save the planet but for what? Gaia?

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
3 years ago

I must admit the extremes of the re-wilders intentions reminds me of China’s Great Leap Forward that inadvertently led to tens of millions of deaths – many of them from starvation, but perhaps I am just in a gloomy mood.

Val Cox
Val Cox
3 years ago

R.S. Thomas – Afforestation
“And who will mourn the strong bodies for whom the wind grieves”
I am trying to remember the exact quote from 45 years ago.

cajwbroomhill
cajwbroomhill
3 years ago

What an entertaining and balanced, useful article!
One could add that, since the UK’s CO2 output in manmade greenhouse gases is negligible at 0.04% of the planet’s total, there is absolutely no useful
point in our curbing carbon dioxide.
Ending that futile endeavour would give us vast advantages without harming the climate at all.
Present decarbonisation plans are nothing short of insane, as I suspect Winston Churchill would have recognised, and freed huge resources.
The CCActs must be repealed and Lord Selwyn Gummer Deben put out to grass, uninfested by climate-useless trees!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago

Unfortunately, this is a grossly simplistic rather than a nuanced article. Native woodland was very likely not a full canopy cover, but broken extensively, not least by large herbivores. You could have a look at the book ‘Wilding’ about Knepp in Sussex.

We have a very, very long way to go to see John Lewis-Stempel’s dystopia of forestry everywhere; we seem to have have 95% plus tree-denuded uplands in Britain. As my French friends point out, sheep seem to cover the whole country from Romney Marsh to the Highlands. We don’t need to get rid of all or even most of them to be able to see a big improvement in landscape and , yes, wildlife diversity in the UK. Many of the species we associate with naked moorland are more naturally woodland or edgeland fauna.

roboakville
roboakville
3 years ago

Here in Canada, our Great Reset loving Prime Minister loves the triple talk of replanting forests, immense levels of immigration and reducing our carbon footprint.
How does this all fit together? Bring in 400,000 people a year into a country with 10 times the carbon footprint per person than the countries they came from, settle them almost exclusively into Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver which are all southern cities, surrounded by rich farm lands which are all being plowed over for mile after mile of single detached houses, then plant trees on remaining farms that are left empty because the carbon tax on the fuel for the grain dryers and tractors makes them uncompetitive with the untaxed US and South American farms.
Result…
More people living with higher carbon footprint.
More food coming in by truck and ship from farms carved out of rain forests.
More subdivisions made of wood and brick.

Stephen Hoffman
Stephen Hoffman
3 years ago

Once vast tracts of unexplored wilderness”sea, forest or sandy wastes”were called “deserts” not so much because they lacked life, but because they were inhospitable unknowns. Let’s hope such spaces don’t disappear from the Earth. But Lewis-Stempel’s point is that man’s activity should focus not on reforestation, but on the preservation of the rural”including presumably the “re-ruralization” of land lost to industrialized and intensive farming. The “rural” is an intimate collaboration between nature and man. Brilliant article.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago

It is disingenuous nonsense to claim that grassland is equivalent to forestry for carbon sequestration. The point is not the relative merits of each, but the LIVESTOCK that lives on the grass. This produces vast quantities of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Livestock accounts for over half of global greenhouse emissions every year. I don’t disagree with Stempel about the need to better manage the environment, but he’s waxing lyrical about ponds and curlews while ignoring that his cows are farting us into oblivion.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Nothing humans do will change the climate. Try looking at the physics, but the proven physics, not the sophistry from climate scientists.

Helen Lloyd
Helen Lloyd
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

There is plenty humans can do to reduce the contribution that we make to the degradation of our planet. Look into loss of biodiversity – David Attenborough “The true tragedy of our time is still unfolding ““ the loss of biodiversity. The living world is our unique marvel. The natural world is fading”Š”We must change our diet. The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters. If we had a mostly plant-based diet we could increase the yield of the land. We have an urgent need for free land”Š Nature is our biggest ally.”

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Sure, climate scientists. What do those dummies know.

Phil Thompson
Phil Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Methane decomposes naturally in the atmosphere. The extensive grazing of upland pastures is carbon neutral as nobody is hauling any carbon up to 2000 ft to feed sheep. Any carbon they emit, they consumed.

Helen Lloyd
Helen Lloyd
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil Thompson

From an article in Ecowatch: Methane traps very large quantities of heat in the first decade after it is released in to the atmosphere, but quickly breaks down.

After a decade, most emitted methane has reacted with ozone to form carbon dioxide and water. This carbon dioxide continues to heat the climate for hundreds or even thousands of years.

Emitting methane will always be worse than emitting the same quantity of carbon dioxide, no matter the time scale.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  Helen Lloyd

Do digital farmers dream of electric cows?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

so are you advocating the wholesale elimination of cows? Because they’re not going to stop belching and farting by being asked to. It’s funny how the would-be keepers of nature frequently clutch their pearls over acts of nature.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

It’s not that hard to understand. Continued high levels of meat consumption with rising global population does not square with emissions targets. So yes I am advocating that we eat much less meat.

(We had the pearl clutching metaphor yesterday. You should mix it up a bit)

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Dis you miss

(The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by the way, had deduced that methane from Britain’s ruminants is not causing further global warming.)

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Agriculture as a whole accounts for 11% of greenhouse emissions.. https://www.c2es.org/conten

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

That number looks extremely low. Many experts say the full lifecycle impacts, taking into account rainforest destruction for feedstock pushes the true figure much higher

https://www.forbes.com/site