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Instead of planting trees, give forests back to people

Tree-covered hills in the foreground with a lake and town in the background
Aerial view on the White Lake in Tansen, Nepal, at sunrise. | Image: Frank Bienewald / LightRocket via Getty Images

It might sound counterintuitive, but empowering locals to manage forests is an excellent way to preserve them. That strategy can even bring dwindling forests roaring back, NASA Earth Observatory’s recent “image of the day” shows us.

NASA published a set of maps yesterday showing the incredible recovery Nepal’s forests have made over the past several decades thanks to a plan to put nearby communities in charge of conservation. You can see thin forest cover in the early 1990s, followed by a lush resurgence by the late 2010s. Forest cover almost doubled across the country between 1992 and 2016, the satellite imagery shows.

“Once communities started actively managing the forests, they grew back mainly as a result of natural regeneration,” J…

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