We need a forest to address climate change, loss of biodiversity, and planetary health; we need to rebuild nature in a way that will last. We must reject the idea of a mono-crop paper-mill style forest. We want true environmental wealth. We need the closest thing to a natural state that we can recreate.
This forest is not going to be planted in Manhattan or London, but in the equatorial south. The viable growing locations happen to be occupied by nearly a billion smallholder farmers. We cannot displace these farmers, and we cannot grow this forest without them.
For energy or land, nearly all human life on earth relies on some form of forest destruction; humans are still clearing trees for space and resources because the value of most trees is only realized when they are cut down. To grow a quality forest, each living tree's health must hold more value than the other uses for that land or biomass. Each tree's existence must hold a realizable value as it lives.
And here is the dilemma: if growing trees is more valuable than the other uses for that land, greed will grow the forest by removing the land from the voiceless people.
Our forest effort must first and foremost focus on supporting people. We must begin by valuing positive human interactions with the environment. Only when the act of growing forests can buy food and pay for school fees, will we see a mass of farmers from around the world rising from the poverty and dust of subsistence agriculture to partake in a solution to our global climate crisis.
Creating the correct value system will solve issues of extreme and rural poverty and enable a workforce a billion strong to grow the most amazing forest our plant can know.