Deforestation vs. Reforestation vs. Afforestation
Learning the difference is part of becoming climate change literate.

Reforestation | Deforestation | Afforestation


What does reforestation mean?
Reforestation is the natural or intentional restocking of existing forests and woodlands that have been depleted, usually through deforestation.

Why is reforestation important?
“Forests have already removed nearly one third of human-produced carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. Through sustainable forest management, they could remove much more.”
Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs
Reforestation and climate change
Forests are central in developing global solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change:  Trees use water and sunlight to convert CO2 into carbohydrates through the process of photosynthesis to provide energy and the building blocks for growth. Carbon removed from the atmosphere is effectively stored in plant material and wood, i.e. trees act as carbon sinks.

Reforestation is also important for a number of other reasons including the fact that 1.6 billion people worldwide rely on forests for their livelihoods Additionally, forests have been shown to have benefits related to anti-erosion, flood control, water security, soil protection/production and the maintenance of biodiversity.

Facts about reforestation
• There are about three trillion trees on the planet and they play a major role in producing the oxygen we all breathe. But twice as many existed before the start of human civilisation.
• Today, 10 billion more trees are cut down than are planted every year. This destruction is a significant contributor to the carbon emissions that are driving the climate crisis.
• Forests are a vital and rich habitat for wildlife – unfortunately the razing of forests is a major contributor to biodiversity losses.
• Tropical rainforests host 50% of known terrestrial species on only 6% of the world’s land.
• Trees are important in controlling regional rainfall, as they evaporate water from their leaves.
• The world’s rainforests could be extinct in 100 years should we continue with the current rate of deforestation.
• As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that are driving global heating.
• A living tree draws in and stores twice as much carbon dioxide than a fallen tree releases.
• CO2 stored in trees is released into the atmosphere when they are destroyed via logging or burning.
• Tree roots anchor the soil and prevent soil erosion.
• Many Western medicines, including anti-cancer drugs are derived from plants found in rainforests.
• In urban areas, the shade from trees has been shown to both cool city streets and reduce levels of air pollution.
• They can also boost people’s wellbeing as part of green spaces, with research showing two-hour “dose” of nature a week significantly improving health.

Forestation of deserts
• Forestation of deserts is the reclamation and cultivation of land in areas that have been subject to desertification.
• One of the benefits of the forestation of deserts (or “desert greening”) is that trees store water and lower evaporation from the ground, helping to keep the soil intact.

The best trees for reforestation
• Generally, it is best to use multiple tree species that closely resemble the natural forests in the region.
• Native tree species are selected over alien or invasive plants.
• For desert areas, plants that do not require a lot of water are used, like cactus plants, wildflowers and shrubbery. In the tree family, examples are the Joshua Tree and the Elephant Tree.

Drone reforestation
• Reforestation drones are used both to map out areas for data collection and to plant trees.
• Using drones improves the efficiency and accuracy of reforestation and drones can plant significantly more trees per hour, than can be done via other methods.
• Human error (inconsistent spacing between plants and depth of planting etc.) is reduced when using drones.
• Drones are also able to plant diversified species, at the same time, in an optimized arrangement.
• Drones are able to plant in areas where traditional methods are challenge limited.

Forest regeneration definition
What does forest regeneration mean?
Forest regeneration is the process by which new tree seedlings become established after forest trees have been harvested or have died from fire, insects, or disease. Regeneration is key to sustainable forestry and can be accomplished through two basic approaches: natural regeneration, which occurs when new seedlings or sprouts are produced by trees left on or near the site or artificial regeneration, more commonly known as tree planting.


Deforestation definition
What does deforestation mean?
Deforestation is the clearing of virgin forests, or intentional destruction or removal of trees and other vegetation for agricultural, commercial, housing or firewood use without replanting and without allowing time for the forest to regenerate itself. 

Afforestation definition
What does afforestation mean?
Afforestation is the establishment of a forest or stand of trees in an area where there was no previous tree cover.

The difference between afforestation and reforestation
Although both are driving towards a similar if not the same goal, afforestation is not the same as reforestation. Afforestation is the planting or adding of trees in an area where there was never a forest or plantation. This is a method to create a new forest. Reforestation is the replanting of trees in an area where there was once a forest which was destroyed or damaged. This is a method to bring back or improve forest that was previously there.

Deforestation | Reforestation | Afforestation

Website Portfolio

One Tree Planted


One Tree Planted is a non-profit organization focused on global reforestation. They work with local communities, businesses, and individuals to plant trees in areas affected by deforestation, wildfires, and other environmental challenges. Their website provides information on their planting projects, ways to get involved, and the impact of their efforts.



Ecosia is a search engine that uses its advertising revenue to plant trees around the world. With every search made on their platform, a portion of the revenue goes towards afforestation projects. Their website features a tree counter, showing the number of trees planted through user searches, as well as information on their planting locations and partners.

Plant for the Planet


Plant for the Planet is a youth-led organization that aims to raise awareness about the importance of trees and inspire action against the climate crisis. Their website provides educational resources, information on their tree-planting campaigns, and ways for individuals and organizations to get involved in their global afforestation efforts.

Trees for the Future


Trees for the Future is a non-profit organization that focuses on planting trees to restore degraded lands, improve soil quality, and provide sustainable livelihoods for communities in developing countries. Their website showcases their Forest Garden Approach, which combines agroforestry and sustainable land management practices to create long-term environmental and economic benefits.

Arbor Day Foundation


The Arbor Day Foundation is a non-profit conservation and education organization dedicated to planting trees and promoting the importance of trees in our communities. Their website offers information on their various tree-planting programs, educational resources, and ways to get involved, such as becoming a member or purchasing trees for planting.



WeForest is an international non-profit organization that works to restore forests and promote sustainable land use practices in tropical and subtropical regions. Their website provides information on their restoration projects, the science behind their approach, and ways for individuals and businesses to support their afforestation efforts through donations and partnerships.

Woodland Trust


The Woodland Trust is the UK's largest woodland conservation charity, focusing on protecting, restoring, and creating native woodland habitats. Their website offers information on their conservation projects, tree-planting initiatives, and ways to get involved, such as volunteering, donating, or becoming a member.



Tree-Nation is a platform that connects individuals and organizations with tree-planting projects around the world. Users can create a virtual forest, plant real trees, and track their impact on the environment. The website features a variety of afforestation projects, information on the benefits of planting trees, and ways to offset carbon emissions through tree-planting.

American Forests


American Forests is a non-profit organization that has been protecting and restoring forests in the United States for over 140 years. Their website provides information on their various programs, including urban forestry, forest restoration, and tree equity. They also offer resources for individuals and communities to get involved in tree-planting and conservation efforts.

Reforest Action


Reforest Action is a social enterprise that aims to make reforestation accessible and engaging for everyone. Their website allows users to plant trees through a simple online platform, track their impact, and learn about the importance of forests in combating climate change. They work with local communities and organizations to implement sustainable tree-planting projects around the world.

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