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It’s a common suggestion that we should just plant trees to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, but this isn’t quite the solution it may seem. Reforestation would roughly make up for the carbon added to the atmosphere by past deforestation, but our burning of fossil fuels is another matter.

Still, that’s no argument to ignore reforestation. There is no silver bullet solution to climate change, and many things like reforestation add up to make meaningful contributions. And reforestation has a host of other benefits, including improving air quality and providing species with habitats.

So how much of a difference could efforts to save and regrow forests—together with conservation of other ecosystems—really do? That’s the question asked by a group led by Bronson Griscom, an ecologist at The Nature Conservancy. By including a broad set of possible reforestation actions, Griscom and his colleagues found a larger opportunity than we'd previously estimated.

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