Planting a 2.2 billion acres of tree cover areas, the size of the US, could avert climate change, researchers from the Crowther Lab in Switzerland suggest.
The trees would be able to absorb and amass 205 billion tonnes of carbon, thus, undertaking around two-thirds of the 300 billion extra tonnes of carbon which are in the atmosphere.
"We all knew restoring forests could play a part in tackling climate change, but we had no scientific understanding of what impact this could make,” senior author of the study, Professor Tom Crowther, said.
“Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today and it provides hard evidence to justify investment. However, it will take decades for new forests to mature and achieve this potential,” Crowther explained.
"It is vitally important that we protect the forests that exist today, pursue other climate solutions, and continue to phase out fossil fuels from our economies in order to avoid dangerous climate change,” he added.
The study analyzed almost 80,000 high resolution satellite images of protected areas to assess natural levels of tree cover in areas across the world in the absence of human activity.
It noticed that the most suitable land for reforesting is used for cities and agriculture.