Nurses Drawdown - Nature

Nurses Drawdown Campaign

The Nature Initiative at Nurses Drawdown encourages nurses to promote Nature-based solutions effectively to address greenhouse gasses in several ways. Planting trees on vacant land works to pull carbon out of the air and sink it in the soil. According to Drawdown science, planting dense plots of diverse and native species also has numerous health co-benefits including enhanced food options as well as flood and drought protection. Protecting forests, especially in the tropics, not only draws down greenhouse gasses but healthy tropical forests are necessary for healthy humans. Forests protect our pollinators which are necessary for adequate food supplies; forests protect biodiversity which is essential for future medicines; and protecting all forests protects people and communities that have called these places home for thousands of years.

Summary of Solutions

Forest Protection

5.52–8.75
GIGATONS
CO2 EQUIVALENT
REDUCED / SEQUESTERED
(2020–2050)

Mature, healthy forests are powerful storehouses of both biodiversity and carbon. Forests like the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia’s (BC) central coast are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. Canada’s Boreal Forest spans the country and is home to more intact forest than anywhere else on Earth, including 25% of the world’s remaining primary forest (Boreal Conservation, n.d.). In addition to their wealth of biodiversity, the biomass and soil of mature forests are carbon sinks containing hundreds of billions of tons of carbon (Project Drawdown, 2020a).

Still, forests are being cut down at an alarming rate resulting in the release of carbon and the loss of critical ecosystem services like water regulation and supply (Project Drawdown, 2020a). More than 15 billion trees are cut down each year, and carbon emissions from deforestation and associated land use change are estimated to be 10 – 15% of the world’s total emissions (Project Drawdown, 2020a). Less than 30% of the world’s primary forests remain, and in BC for example, without a strong, decisive forest protection policy, old-growth hemlock and spruce will be milled into wood pellets and ancient cedars will become fence posts and burned slash piles which add to BC’s carbon emissions (Cox, 2019).

Climate mitigation, however, demands that we keep forest carbon in the ground through forest protection as forests store more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem (Government of Canada, 2020). Additional benefits of forest protection include biodiversity protection, non-timber products, erosion control, pollination, ecotourism, and other ecosystem services (Project Drawdown, 2020a). In Canada, Indigenous-led conservation is a critical part of any forest conservation project moving forward.

Nurses Drawdown - Nature
“The Goat River valley is one of only a few inland temperate rainforest watersheds in BC that haven’t been logged”. Photo: Taylor Roades / The Narwhal https://thenarwhal.ca/canadas-forgotten-rainforest/
Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment

Tree Plantations (on degraded land)

22.24–35.94
GIGATONS
CO2 EQUIVALENT
REDUCED / SEQUESTERED
(2020–2050)

$16.67–72.09
BILLION $US
NET FIRST COST
(TO IMPLEMENT SOLUTION)

$-259.5 - -164.86
BILLION $US
LIFETIME NET
OPERATIONAL SAVINGS

$2.15–3.38
TRILLION $US
LIFETIME
NET PROFIT

Afforestation is the strategic planting of new forests on degraded or abandoned land previously used for pasture, agriculture, or industrial activities like mining (Project Drawdown, 2020b). Afforestation projects around the world are on the rise to provide forest products like wood and fiber, as well as carbon offsets because planting trees sequesters carbon, drawing it down into plant biomass and the soil. According to the United Nations Global Forest Goals (2020), afforestation is a key strategy to reverse the loss of forest cover globally and mitigate climate change.

While tree plantations are a vital method of climate change mitigation, they are controversial because the long-term well-being of the land and local communities are typically not taken into account. The planting of monoculture forests, often motivated by financial interests, has resulted in ecologically poor habitats. The “Miyawaki Method”, developed by Japanese plant ecologist Akira Miyawaki, is demonstrating that biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human needs can be supported by growing dense plots of indigenous forest with diverse species (Project Drawdown, 2021). Inspired by the Miyawaki Method, rapidly growing biodiverse and dense, “mini-forests” are sprouting up in Europe, India, and around the world (Lewis, 2020).

In line with this thinking, the Ontario Biodiversity Afforestation Project (OBAP) is focused on re-establishing long-lived forest species on land once used for agriculture with the purpose of sequestering carbon and regenerating forest biodiversity (Carbonzero, 2021). In 2020, the Canadian federal government is developing the “Growing Canada’s Forests Program” with a  commitment to plant 2 billion trees over the next 10 years in the interest of climate change mitigation, the ecosystem services that forests provide, and for biodiversity (Government of Canada, 2021).

Nurses Drawdown - Nature
"File:New afforestation looking into Rand Wood - geograph.org.uk - 329908.jpg" by Alan Murray-Rust is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Tree plantation on degraded land is already practiced on a wide scale, and represents an important high-carbon land use. It produces products of critical importance and can help reduce pressure on intact forests. Though not a "silver bullet," it is an essential component of land-based mitigation efforts.

Project Drawdown

Indigenous Peoples Forest Tenure

8.69–12.93
GIGATONS
CO2 EQUIVALENT
REDUCED / SEQUESTERED
(2020–2050)

$0
BILLION $US
NET FIRST COST
(TO IMPLEMENT SOLUTION)

The indigenous peoples’ forest tenure solution has highly desirable human rights co-benefits, leading Project Drawdown to prioritize it for forest lands wherever possible.

Project Drawdown
Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment
Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment

Across the globe, Indigenous communities are on the frontline of resistance against deforestation, industrial resource extraction projects, monocrop plantations – and consequently, climate change (Project Drawdown, 2020c). In Canada, Indigenous-led conservation is strengthening throughout the country, offering a model rooted in accountability, sustainability and climate change mitigation. “Many Indigenous Nations are building conservation-based economies that transcend the boom and bust cycle [of resource extraction and status quo forestry].  We are generating jobs and honouring our responsibility to the land at the same time” states Valérie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative (International Boreal Conservation Campaign, 2020, para. 6).

In the past 40 years, Indigenous Forest Tenure has increased from 0.05% of Canada’s total wood supply to 10.5% (with a decrease in supply due to fire, establishment of park land and habitat protection) (The Canadian Press, 2019). Increasingly more forest tenure is coming under the control of Indigenous communities as legislation changes, such as BC’s Forest Amendment Act – which can potentially allow the transfer of more forest tenure to BC First Nations – and the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are enacted by provincial governments (The Canadian Press, 2019). According to Charlene Higgins of BC First Nations Forestry Council, “as more tenure comes under the control of First Nations, we’re going to see the management of forests change to better reflect Indigenous views and perspectives, and that’s a much longer-term model” (The Canadian Press, 2019, para. 15).

Beyond carbon, indigenous land management conserves biodiversity, maintains a range of ecosystems services, safeguards rich cultures and traditional ways of life, and responds to the needs of the most vulnerable.

Project Drawdown

Temperate Forest Restoration

19.42–27.85
GIGATONS
CO2 EQUIVALENT
REDUCED / SEQUESTERED
(2020–2050)

Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment
Quebec Regional Chapter
Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment

The Earth’s 1.9 billion acres of temperate forests – 25% of total forest – are a net-carbon sink (Project Drawdown, 2020d). According to the World Resources Institute, more than 1.4 billion additional acres could potentially be restored —either large-scale, closed forest or mixed mosaics of forests, more sparsely growing trees, and land uses such as agriculture (Project Drawdown, 2020d). With restoration comes carbon “drawdown”.

In Canada, temperate forest is found in the mixed broadleaf Acadian forest region of Quebec and the Maritimes, and in the cedar, fir, and hemlock rainforest of the west coast. Temperate forests in Canada are threatened by development, drought, wildfire, insects and disease. Temperate forest restoration, done  by allowing natural regeneration and tree planting, take a back seat to protecting original forest.

Land use change, such as conversion of forest to farmland or cities and parks, as well as unsustainable logging and strip mining have rid us of a huge percentage of true temperate deciduous forest, causing many plants and animals that live here to be endangered.

The Wild Classroom - Biomes
Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment

How is this solution relevant/important to nurses and healthcare?

Nurses Drawdown - Nature

Forest Solutions for climate change protect and benefit planetary health, “the health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends” (Whitmee et al., 2015). Planting trees is considered one of the most economical ways to draw down carbon. Tree planting can therefore play a critical role in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assist the transition to a fossil-free, healthy future for people and the planet (Carrington , 2019). Immediate health benefits include that patients who have a view of trees spend fewer days in the hospital (Potter, 2019 ).

Indigenous-led land protection is key to Canada’s healthy future...

Skene, 2020

Examples of things nurses can do to tackle this solution

Forest Protection

A New Future for Old Forests: A Strategic Review of How British Columbia Manages for Old Forests Within its Ancient Ecosystems
A New Future for Old Forests: A Strategic Review of How British Columbia Manages for Old Forests Within its Ancient Ecosystems
Read More
- Review and share BC’s recent Old-Growth Protection Strategy not yet fully implemented by the BC NDP government
Ancient Forest Alliance
Ancient Forest Alliance
Read More
- Explore this forest conservation organization that promotes the conservation of primary forest and a sustainable second growth logging industry coupled with Indigenous led-conservation strategies.
Boreal Conservation
Boreal Conservation
Read More
- Explore this site sponsored by the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC). Initiated nearly 20 years ago, IBCC is a collaborative, multi-faceted initiative that works directly with dozens of First Nations and collaborates with other Indigenous and environmental NGOs, and organizational and individual partners.
Seeing Red Map
Seeing Red Map
Read More
- Explore Northern Conservation's Seeing Red Map on the Narwhal. The map shows the extent of old growth logging in British Columbia, which will shock most people!
Ontario's old growth forests
Ontario's old growth forests
Read More
- Explore this guidebook with history, ecology, maps and trail descriptions for 59 old-growth forests throughout the province.
Protecting Old-Growth
Protecting Old-Growth
Read More
- Explore the Wilderness Committee's call on the BC government to ban the logging of the remaining ancient forests, all of which are on Indigenous lands. Second-growth forests should be the sole supplier of the province's lumber mills and should be logged at a slower, more sustainable rate than they are now. To protect the wood supply for BC's lumber mills, log exports to off-shore mills must be halted.
Largest known old-growth eastern hemlock forest in Canada threatened by logging
Largest known old-growth eastern hemlock forest in Canada threatened by logging
Read More
- Explore the Wilderness Committee's call on the Ontario government to put an immediate halt to planned logging on crown land in Peterborough County — and to establish permanent protection for a unique old-growth ecosystem.

From Project Drawdown (2020a)

“Strategies to stop deforestation and protect forests include:

  • Public policy
  • Enforcement of existing anti-logging laws
  • Eco-certification programs that inform consumers and affect purchasing decisions
  • Programs that enable wealthy nations and corporations to make payments to countries and communities for maintaining their forests”

Canada’s Indigenous Peoples must lead efforts to conserve the boreal region.

Boreal Conservation
Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment

Tree Plantations (on degraded land)

Tree Campus Healthcare
Tree Campus Healthcare
Read More
- Explore this new US-based program focused on tree planting at health care facilities and to help health facilities work with local forestry organizations to support urban forests. It also promotes the benefits of trees for human health.
Eden Reforestation Projects
Eden Reforestation Projects
Read More
- Explore Eden’s global restoration network which is creating livelihoods for millions of people living in extreme poverty by empowering them to restore and protect forests on a massive scale.
Tree Sisters
Tree Sisters
Read More
- Explore the TreeSisters organization who aim to rapidly accelerate tropical reforestation by inspiring and channeling women’s Nature Based Feminine Leadership into global action.
Trees for the Future
Trees for the Future
Read More
- Explore this organization that aims to end hunger and poverty by training farmers to regenerate their land in the developing tropics of Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia.
Tree Canada
Tree Canada
Read More
- Explore this organization that promotes the planting and nurturing of trees in Canada's urban and rural areas. It provides tree-related education, technical assistance and resources to communities, corporations, individuals and non-profit organizations
Canada's 2 Billion Trees Commitment
Canada's 2 Billion Trees Commitment
Read More
- Check out Canada’s “2 Billion Trees Commitment.” To maximize the benefits to Canadians, we’re committed to planting 2 billion trees over the next 10 years – one of the pathways to achieving our goal of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.
Forest Recovery Canada
Forest Recovery Canada
Read More
- Check out Forest Recovery Canada’s website that details several ways to get involved including sponsoring a tree planting program, partnering, and donating to plant trees.

Indigenous Peoples Forest Tenure

Edéhzhíe | Indigenous Protected Area Profile
Edéhzhíe | Indigenous Protected Area Profile
Read More
- Learn about Indigenous-led conservation, for example, watch this video from the Dehcho First Nations who worked with Canada to designate the Edéhzhíe Dehcho Protected Area & National Wildlife Area, conserving over 14,200 sq km of Boreal Forest.
Endangered Ecosystems Alliance
Endangered Ecosystems Alliance
Read More
- Read the recent letter composed by Indigenous and conservation organizations including the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) and the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance, Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club of BC, Wilderness Committee and Stand.earth to the BC Government
NAFA Fourth Report on Indigenous-held forest tenures in Canada
NAFA Fourth Report on Indigenous-held forest tenures in Canada
Read More
- Explore NAFA’s Indigenous-held tenure study report which presents updated report year (2017) tenure metrics for each province/territory, and closes with some historical commentary and a note on growing the future of Canada’s forest sector through Indigenous-held tenure.
Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas
Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas
Read More
- Learn how we are conserving places that matter to our cultures and to the health of the larger world. Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas help us be who we are: caribou people conserve caribou ranges. Salmon people protect salmon watersheds. They reflect our laws and traditions. And they ensure Indigenous Peoples can maintain our relationship with these lands.
Indigenous Leadership Initiative
Indigenous Leadership Initiative
Read More
- Find out how the Indigenous Leadership Initiative supports Indigenous Nations in honouring our cultural responsibility to care for lands and waters. We are dedicated to strengthening Indigenous Nationhood and Indigenous leadership on the land.

Temperate Forest Restoration

Call of the Forest
Call of the Forest
Read More
- We need to act now! By replanting our global forest we can turn around climate change. Pledge to plant one native tree each year for six years to help save our planet. - Host a screening of “Call of the Forest” in your community!
Ontario Biodiversity Afforestation Project (OBAP)
Ontario Biodiversity Afforestation Project (OBAP)
Read More
- Check out this project that aims to re-establish long-lived forest species on land historically used for agricultural purposes within the Boreal & Great Lakes St Lawrence Forest Regions.
Tree Talks by Dr. Suzanne Simard: The Secret Wisdom of Trees
Tree Talks by Dr. Suzanne Simard: The Secret Wisdom of Trees
Read More
- Watch Canopy’s inaugural Tree Talk, with ecologist Dr. Suzanne Simard as she shared her insights and groundbreaking research on the deep, healing, and magical world of forests. Dr. Simard is best known for her work on how trees interact and communicate with each other using vast underground fungal networks. Watch her discuss her work and the interconnected forest community that makes regeneration, resilience, and healing of our natural world possible.

Boreal Conservation. An intact forest. https://www.borealconservation.org/intact-forest

Carbon Zero. (2021). Ontario biodiversity afforestation project. https://www.carbonzero.ca/project/ontario-biodiversity-afforestation-project-obap/

Cox, S. (2019). Canada’s forgotten rainforest. The Narwhal. https://thenarwhal.ca/canadas-forgotten-rainforest/

Government of Canada. (2020). The 2020 state of Canada’s forests annual report:  An overview. https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/2020-state-canadas-forests-annual-report-overview/22925

Lewis, H. (2020, June 13). Fast-growing mini-forests spring up in Europe to aid climate. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/13/fast-growing-mini-forests-spring-up-in-europe-to-aid-climate

Project Drawdown. (2020a). Forest Protection. https://drawdown.org/solutions/forest-protection

Project Drawdown. (2020b). Tree Plantations (on degraded land). https://drawdown.org/solutions/tree-plantations-on-degraded-land

Project Drawdown. (2020c). Indigenous Peoples Forest Tenure. https://drawdown.org/solutions/indigenous-peoples-forest-tenure

Project Drawdown. (2020d). Temperate Forest Restoration. https://drawdown.org/solutions/temperate-forest-restoration

United Nations. (2020). Global forest goals and targets of the UN strategic plan for forests 2030. https://www.un.org/esa/forests/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Global-Forest-Goals-booklet-Apr-2019.pdf

Whitmee, S., Haines, A., Beyrer, C., Boltz, F., Capon, A. G., de Souza Dias, B. F., Ezeh, A., Frumkin, H., Gong, P., Head, P., Horton, R., Mace, G. M., Marten, R., Myers, S. S., Nishtar, S., Osofsky, S. A., Pattanayak, S. K., Pongsiri, M. J., Romanelli, C., Soucat, A., … Yach, D. (2015). Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on planetary health. Lancet (London, England), 386(10007), 1973–2028. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60901-1

Wild Classroom – Biomes. The Deciduous Forest and us. https://thewildclassroom.com/biomes/temperate-deciduous-forest/

 

 

Take Action

Explore CANE’s work in these five key areas in support of this campaign:

Nurses Drawdown - Energy
Energy

Supporting a clean energy future by promoting energy efficiency and advocating for a transition to renewable energy.

Food

Committing to eat a more plant-based sustainable diet, use clean - burning cook stoves, and reduce food waste.

Nurses Drawdown - Gender Equity
Gender

Supporting education for girls and access to family planning to support female empowerment, success and autonomy.

Nurses Drawdown - Mobility
Mobility

Promoting walkable cities, including improving bike infrastructure and mass transit reduces fossil fuel emissions.

Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment
Nature

Planting and protecting forests which also supports pollinators, provides habitat, filters water, and sequesters carbon.