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Will more trees cause more rain?
It is commonly believed that destroying trees will influence the climate of a region. But scientific evidence to support that deforestation and afforestation influence local climate – affecting temperature and rainfall – has only just started emerging.
A new study, led by Borbála Gálos of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, found that planting trees – or afforestation – in areas in Europe where there have previously been no trees can reduce the effect of climate change by cooling temperate regions. Using a computer-generated regional climate model, the study showed that afforestation in the northern part of central Europe and Ukraine could reduce temperatures by 0.3-0.5C and increase rainfall by 10 to 15 percent during summers by 2071-2090.
While the study was specific to the temperate regions, Gálos told IRIN that, in some regions, forests could be effectively used for climate-change mitigation. These studies gain more importance as drought-affected countries like Niger plan a massive afforestation campaign that will regenerate five million hectares of dry degraded land. Additionally, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently published a policy guide to show that combining tree planting with crop or livestock production could not only stem climate change but also create incomes.