The role of trees and plantation agriculture in mitigating global climate change
Climate change refers to a paradigm shift in the climatic pattern of a location, region or planet which is linked with average weather components, such as temperature, wind patterns and precipitations. Climate change results in erratic events such as rising global temperature, intensified drought, flooding, cyclones, low or poor agricultural productivity, loss of biodiversity and shifting of seasons. Natural processes such as variations in the intensity of the sun, eruptions from volcanoes, very slow changes in ocean circulations and land surfaces can cause this global climate change but human activities are by far the major causes through the continuous release of greenhouse gases and aerosols into the atmosphere, by altering land surfaces, and or depleting the ozone layer. The most environmentally conservative response to climate change mitigation would be to stop the consumption of fossil fuels and production of methane and chlorofluorocarbons; but these options may not be feasible until alternative technologies emanate. Considering the large amounts of carbon accumulated as biomass in plantations, extensive planting of trees, which posses large canopies that are able to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, could help mitigate the rising atmospheric CO2 levels. The roles of plantations in mitigating global climate change are related, but not limited to the following: the influence of trees on the hydrologic cycle, the barrier against destructive windstorm and desertification, conservation of the soil surface against erosion and intense heat, binding action of the dense root system, sustainable biodiversity, provision of renewable and bioenergy, nutritious food, employment, and rural income, and the reservoir of sequestered carbon. There is an urgent need to properly integrate trees and plantations in our agricultural systems, homes, institutions, markets, parks and other public places. This would not only help to reduce the build-up of carbondioxide and other atmospheric impurities but also increase the produce from plantation crops in a locality thereby mitigating against food insecurity and poverty.
Keywords: Climate-change, trees, mitigation, adaptation, carbon sequestration, food security, sustainable agriculture