Where on Earth is the best place to plant trees to offset carbon?

Trees grow fastest near the equator, as long as there is fertile soil, sufficient rainfall and they are not on high mountains. That is why it’s ideal to plant trees there if you want to offset carbon emissions as quickly as possible.

Trees around the equator have the advantage that their growing season lasts all year round, while closer to the Arctic Circle it only lasts about 3 months. The extra sunlight allows for more photosynthesis and extra heat, which helps them grow faster. As a result, many trees around the equator are mature after 10 to 20 years, while in Northern Europe or Canada this can take over a 100 years.

Other properties of the location are just as important


Plenty of rain in the area is a must. Photosynthesis is the reaction by which trees grow and this reaction requires water. Without it nothing grows

Fertile soil

The fertility of the soil is important as well. This means that sufficient soil life and nutrients are present so that the tree has all the ingredients for growth at its disposal.


The elevation of the area is also essential. High on a mountain there is less moisture and air pressure, it is colder and the wind blows harder; all factors that cause trees to grow slowly or not at all. But if the mountain is not too high, trees can still be very good there because then their roots prevent soil erosion and landslides.


Even if the conditions are optimal for a tree to grow fast, if it is cut down after two years, it is still not very useful for offsetting carbon. The trees must therefore be able to grow protected, in an area where cutting down healthy trees is strictly prohibited and does not happen (sometimes rules don’t equal reality). A nature reserve would be an ideal location.

If a tree is cut down after 10 to 20 years and used as wood for construction, that is not ideal, but it is less bad. After all, the carbon remains stored in the wood if it is not burned and as long as new trees continue to grow in that spot, the carbon offsetting will continue.

But look beyond offsetting carbon

In addition to removing carbon from the air, trees have an even greater impact on their environment. So also pay attention to these factors:

Tree species

Some tree species grow much faster than others. So one could say: we only plant the fastest growing trees for offsetting carbon. However, this destructive for biodiversity and all other flora and fauna.

Ideally, you should therefore plant a wider range of tree species that are native to the area. That way you don’t disturb nature and you don’t create a monoculture.

Impact on the local population

Planting trees is great everywhere, but planting trees in developing countries can usually do more good than in richer countries. This way the tree planters can get an income and if you plant fruit or nut trees it makes food available and can provide farmers with more income. Ideally, the local population will be involved in planting the trees and so that they benefit from the results.

Are you looking for a suitable project to plant trees?

With Alive to Earth you can easily plant trees that meet all of the above criteria: They are good for the climate, nature and people. Read more here and sign up:

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