For National Tree Day, Qui Finanza Green meets Professor. Francesco Sottile, Professor of Arboriculture at the University of Palermo, to understand what the truth is Role of trees in reducing climate change,
Professor, how do trees contribute to climate change mitigation?
TreeBut even better, all plant organisms have a Strong relationship with carbon dioxide, Because they are able to absorb it from the atmosphere through the leaves in carrying out that extraordinary process. chlorophyll photosynthesis Which involves the absorption of carbon dioxide and the release of oxygen into the atmosphere, only after it has recovered the necessary carbon to carry out all the metabolic processes necessary for its growth. If the species is tree relatedIf the species is present, most of the sequestered carbon remains in the structure of the tree. of grass And devoid of woody structures, much of the carbon that is not used by the plant is absorbed into the soil.
Why is it important to pay attention not only to the quantity of trees planted, but also to their quality?
such a broad idea Through trees we can solve the problem of high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but it is obvious to everyone, and perhaps even more so to young people today Planting trees is not enough To solve such a far-reaching problem above all else. We must first activate important processes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
So trees can definitely help us, but only if we do our part Significant reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide and the climate-changing gases we release into the atmosphere due to our unsustainable lifestyles. Ultimately it is clear that It’s not just about the number of trees Installed, but needs to be installed green infrastructure (hence with much greater complexity than the simple appearance of trees) is able to exhibit high photosynthetic efficiency. We need to talk about the right tree for each location, so that plant environment relationship can give great value of work done by plants Also for the benefit of other creatures.
You highlighted that planting billions of trees without any specific plan could be harmful. Can you tell us what are the main risks associated with afforestation without proper planning?
A tree, as well as any plant infrastructure, is a resource for the environment and all living beings, including humans. said so, We definitely need the right tree for each environmental contextWe need to respect the relationship between plant and environment and this can only be done if we see the value expressed within our biodiversity and ecosystem balance. Wrong plant can become even more of a burden to society This is a value, as it is demanding from a maintenance perspective and may exhibit poor photosynthetic efficiency, resulting in a reduction in its ecological role. For example, the wrong tree may show poor vegetative activity and therefore be more prone to fire.
Are there others too?
A misplaced tree may have less ground anchoring ability, less ability to prevent hydrogeological risks as well as less ability to prevent erosion risk. Then again it could be the wrong tree Subject to killing in adverse climatic conditions, With great risk to other trees and society. So we have to look for itThe right tree for every space Where you decide to plant. Many years ago we talked about eco-friendliness, the close relationship between plants and the environment. Perhaps now is the time to restore the value of this approach, to learn again not to neglect these relationships that make the lives of trees successful and to actually increase the ecological contribution that plant species make to the essential climate today. Can make changes.
How can sustainable soil management contribute to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
This is a very important question, because it allows you present evidence as it is Today it is disappointing to think that only trees can represent a tool to deal with carbon dioxide concentrations In the environment. In fact, I continue to talk about green infrastructure, that is, the sharing and coexistence between woody, shrubby and herbaceous plant systems to guarantee the maintenance of soil fertility, all in cooperation with each other. . Role of soil in combating climate change This is extremely important, because soil, due to its very diverse network of microorganisms, represents a carbon store that, if intact, allows significant amounts to be sequestered. Having sustainably grassed soils means having an infrastructure of plants capable of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and, in whole or in part, transferring it into the soil.
What is our role as individuals?
We humans just need to know how to respect this soil carbon, Recognizing ecological value Plant infrastructure and avoid causing new emissions of carbon from soil to the atmosphere as much as possible, especially through continuous processing and modification of land use. How much does the latest ISPRA data show? The need for legislation capable of dealing with land consumption is essential At the national level, to avoid continued overbuilding, but also to avoid soil loss due to loss of fertility due to industrial agricultural models that are no longer sustainable.
How can we ensure that tree planting initiatives in some parts of the world do not collide with deforestation in other parts of the world?
Only through the study of diverse contexts and clear objectives to be achieved can we use the resources available today to mitigate the climate crisis. Climate knows no political boundaries And hence the approach cannot be confined within a politically defined area without looking at geographical relationships. We cannot think of a Sicilian strategy that does not take into account the Mediterranean context, we cannot think of an Italian strategy that does not take into account the European strategy and so on.
Sure Overcome sovereignty challenges And really try to build a dialogue that is able to implement effective tools that take into account regional specificities, that take into account Agricultural and cultural specialties, It takes into account objectives that should be structural and therefore not necessarily immediate. We need to imagine a medium-long-term strategy, capable of guaranteeing a reversal of the dramatic trend we are experiencing and therefore its own ecological transformation rather than a transition.
So isn’t planting trees a benefit in itself?
Also, before we think about planting trees to clear our conscience of our unsustainable behavior, we should instead Imagine how to act to reduce our impactWe all should come together and share the need to stop cutting trees globally especially The part of the world where trees are the so-called lungs of the planet, Being complicit in the destruction of the Amazon forest as consumers of products directly or indirectly linked to deforestation represents a way of not contributing to the solution of the climate crisis.
What are the main challenges in this context?
So, the challenge here is to understand this Each of us can play an important role in our daily life, Through one’s consumption and through one’s choices, however, it requires a commitment to awareness that will, for once, make the most of the fact that Homo sapiens is able to understand and make important choices.
What is the situation in Italy?
Our country may have to do this Acknowledge the need to contribute Important for ecological transformation. Agroecology, recalled by European strategies of from field to fork and Biodiversity 2030, an essential model based on principles that guarantee food production in full relationship with ecosystems and therefore in perfect balance with other living beings. In fact, an idea of agricultural production that is indifferent to the footprint left in the region, ecosystem and environment is no longer acceptable.
What should our country do more or differently?
Our planet lives on a relationship between the atmospheric environment and the pedological environment and this relationship is undeniably mediated by plant species. so we don’t need to put A large number of trees have to be plantedbut we have to see a well-defined strategy which takes into account the presence of plant species in cities and Conservation of rural areas and forest areas,
All this requires a strategic vision, a precise definition of the objectives that a country must establish, in a global vision and not closed by its borders, to protect its citizens and the citizens of the world. On this Our country can be a leader, Play an exemplary role, but must begin with the awareness that any ecological transformation action may entail economic costs that certainly far outweigh the benefits on an environmental scale. Above all for the benefit of our children who will not forgive us for behavior based on laziness and ignorance.