Study Shows Leaving Forests to Regrow May Be Better Than Replanting

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. reforestation / riˈfɔr ɪst ˈsteɪ ʃən / (n) – the act of restoring forests by planting seeds or young trees in them

    The environmental organization’s new projects focus on reforestation.

  2. leave alone / liv əˈloʊn / (idiom) – to not touch or bother someone or something

    The pottery is still wet, so please leave it alone.

  3. flourish / ˈflɜr ɪʃ / (v) – to grow well

    My mother’s garden flourished because the weather was so nice.

  4. capture / ˈkæp tʃər / (v) – to catch or absorb something

    Scientists created a device that can capture air pollutants.

  5. hindrance / ˈhɪn drəns / (n) – a person or thing that prevents or stops something from happening

    His low self-confidence is a hindrance to his success.


Read the text below.

A study has shown that letting forests regrow naturally may have more benefits than replanting trees.

It has been a common belief that replanting trees is the most reliable reforestation method. However, a new study published in the journal Nature found that leaving trees to grow back naturally may be a better and more cost-efficient alternative.

According to the study, natural forest regrowth, a method in which lands cleared for agriculture and other purposes are left alone so that trees can grow back naturally, may help native trees and wildlife flourish. For the study, experts from the World Resources Institute (WRI) and other environmental institutions measured the amount of carbon that could be captured through natural forest regrowth.

The results showed that if forests are allowed to regrow naturally, they can absorb nearly a quarter of annual global CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. This is in addition to the 30% of CO2 emissions that existing forests can currently absorb.

However, not all forests recover at the same rate. The best areas to allow forests to regrow naturally are in the tropical regions of west and central Africa. In regions such as central Europe and the Middle East, regrowth tends to take longer.

Lead author Susan Cook-Patton said that to promote natural forest regeneration, any hindrances that may disrupt or prevent its regrowth, such as fences or farm animals, should be removed.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Based on the study’s results, do you think people should stop tree-planting activities? Why or why not?
• Do you think scientists should continue to look for other methods of reforestation? Explain.

Discussion B

• Do you think deforestation should be prioritized over other critical environmental issues (e.g. pollution, global warming)? Explain.
• Apart from forests, what other things in nature should be allowed to regrow or recover without human intervention (e.g. corals)? Discuss.