South Pole's experts love an excuse to get their boots dirty in any one of our forestry projects worldwide. They quantify the total amount of carbon a project absorbs each year and align other co-benefits with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. This consistent and robust system helps to highlight the true indispensable value forests hold; they are worth infinitely more than the land they grow on or the wood they are made from. Once the immeasurable value of forest ecosystems is fully appreciated, deforestation will slow and climate finance will flow into areas that need protection and restoration.

If you want to understand how different forestry projects actually work, read on to dig a little deeper...

1. Protection

Carbon emissions from deforestation and associated land use change are estimated to be 10 to 15 % of the world's total. Forest protection removes the threat and risk of deforestation or land degradation. Protecting forested landscapes is the most cost effective and efficient natural solutions to lower global emissions and slow the impacts of climate change.

Old-growth or virgin forests can store the most carbon, that is because carbon is stored undisturbed in the soil, while all vegetation - from a wispy fern on the forest floor to the tallest sequoia - absorbs carbon as it grows. Tropical forests, such as the Amazon, the tangled undergrowth is almost impenetrable, rather than seeing it as a nuisance, think of all the carbon that is being stored to help cool our planet!

Mr Maxwell

Mr Maxwell, Siabuwa High School

Kariba Forest Protection

"Having asked 'Who can turn Binga green?' Mr Maxwell says that “it is everyone's responsibility to ensure that where they come from trees are being grown and looked after."

The tree nursery project in greenhouses has been officially handed over to Siabuwa High School! They were supported with 10,000 packets to grow seedlings.

2. Sustainable forest management

If trees are the building blocks of forests, the cement would be made from the vegetation and millions of organisms that keep the self-regulating ecosystem functioning. From the tiny bacteria that live in the soil and help roots transmit nutrients, to the birds who spread seeds and the fungi that decompose dying trees, every component has a crucial role to play.

Sustainably managing forest protects forests from being cut down in the long-term as it balances the needs of local communities and forest conservation. At the
Sankofa project cocoa farmers, like Emelia Debrah, are implementing agroforestry systems (that means growing crops interspersed with trees) to diversify their income year round and so their livelihoods are secure in the long term and nature flourishes.

Equally, improving how forests are managed can make forests more resilient to withstand global temperature changes, increase the amount of carbon forests can store and be a strong defense to forest fires.

Emelia Debrah

Emelia Debrah, Lead Cocoa Farmer

Sankofa Agroforestry Project

"When I harvest the cocoa I use the proceeds to take care of my family, I buy clothes for them and pay for their school fees. "

3. Reforestation and afforestation

The potential of planting trees as a solution to the climate crisis has gained increasing prominence. Reforestation refers to the practise of planting trees to restore forest cover where the land has been recently cleared. The main culprits include farming, mining, logging, and drilling, wildfires, roads and urbanisation. Afforestation involves establishing forest cover where there had been none for a long time. While there are different methods and practises, for instance the type of trees that are planted, all reforestation and afforestation projects increase global forest cover. While the amount of carbon sequestered is limited until the trees mature; young forests still offer a home to wildlife, provide medicine and food, and fast growing tree species also help address human needs for firewood.

The Vegachi project in Colombia, one of South Pole's reforestation projects, proves the ability of replanting forests to deeply transform a place. The project has planted native species such as cedar, walnut and paco to breathe new life into the area, restoring pride in the forest and what nature provides.

Señor Fabian

Señor Fabian, Land Manager

Vegachi Reforestation Project

"Those who are close to nature, enjoy clean air, listen to the sounds of animals in the mornings, and are infinitely fortunate."


South Pole has forest conservation and restoration projects around the world, take a look!

Read more about the importance of forests.