Planting trees has quickly emerged as a seemingly simple way to soak up carbon emissions. Everybody likes it: Environmentalists, politicians, and corporations alike are pushing for a rapid expansion of reforestation efforts to help meet climate goals.
This means growing trees—and lots of them—with the expectation that they’ll capture and store carbon dioxide and help prevent it from warming the world beyond the Paris Agreement target of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial temperatures.
But according to a new study in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, there aren’t enough tree seedlings currently being grown, at least in the United States, to keep up with those goals. If reforestation efforts are to help tackle climate change, the study finds, tree nurseries across the U.S. will have to increase their production to at least three billion seedlings per year— more than double current levels.