Friday, April 12, 2019

The World is Planting Trees and We are Seeing Results

All around the world countries are planting trees in an effort to combat climate change, fight air pollution, reduce flood damage and address a host of other problems.

Cities are also playing a leadership role. Melbourne, Australia, doubling its tree canopy to reduce carbon pollution by 40 percent. The city of Seoul, South Korea has planted 2,000 trees and gardens. Athens, Greece, planted trees to reduce flood damage. Milan, Italy is planting 3 million trees by 2030 to combat air pollution. New York, New York, United States. City planners planted 1 million trees in 2015 in response to research that showed trees help to make people happier and smarter.

The United Nations initially ran a project known as the Billion Tree Campaign but it has been renamed the Trillion Tree Campaign. It has already planted 13.64 billion trees around the world. The Billion Tree Program was inspired by the Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Wangari Maathai, whose Green Belt Movement planted 30 million trees in Africa. Trillion Trees is an unprecedented collaboration between three of the world’s largest conservation organizations - WWF, BirdLife International, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

With the support of the UN Environment Programme, Plant for the Planet encourages individuals, schools, businesses and organisations to make pledges and get directly involved in tree planting. Plant for the Planet recently bought 33,300 acres (13,500 hectares) in Campeche province of Mexico and they plan to plant 10 million trees by 2020.

People are finding creative ways of planting trees including a search engine called Ecosia which devotes all of their profits to planting trees. They have planted 30 million trees so far.

Sweden's forests have doubled in the last century, now more than 70 percent of the country is covered by trees. Sweden also uses a sustainable forest model to manage its timber industry. The country plants more trees than it cuts down every year (annual growth is 120 million forest cubic metres, and each year around 90 million forest cubic metres is harvested. Since the nation's first Forestry Act was passed in 1903 and in 1993, Sweden made its forests "a national resource".

In 2016 Norway became the first country to ban the clear cutting of trees to combat deforestation. Norway also fights global deforestation. In 2008 they gave $ billion to Brazil that resulted in a 75 percent reduction in deforestation in seven years.

China is creating massive forests the size of Ireland. Forty two percent of China's greening comes from from programs to conserve and expand forests and 32 percent comes from crops. China has enlisted the help of its army to plant trees to create new forests.

India is right behind China as a leading source of vegetation. However, it should be noted that 82 percent of the greening seen in India comes from intensive cultivation of food crops. Nonetheless India has been aggressively planting trees. In 2017 India broke its own world record for the most trees planted after volunteers planted 66 million saplings in only half a day.

Early in 2018 Pakistan hit its target of planting 1 billion trees and later that same year they announced that they would be planting 10 billion more. The country has also succeeded in virtually eliminating timber smuggling and they have stepped up efforts to combat corruption.

Vietnam represents the world's largest commitment of new natural forests, at 14.6 million hectares and New Zealand is planning on planting one billion trees

African countries (Ethiopia, Niger, Mali, etc.) are reforesting degraded land and Nigeria has the most agroforestry, with 15.7 million hectares under cultivation. Latin American nations are supporting reforestation efforts in the Amazon.

According to recently published research in the Journal Nature Sustainability, it appears to be working. A recently published study shows the Earth is greener today than it was 20 years ago. This was the finding in new satellite research from NASA Earth Observatory. In less than two decades there has been an increase of two million square miles of green leaf area per year, which amounts to a 5 percent increase.

Rates of deforestation are still a major concern in Brazil, Central Africa and Indonesia. However, as a whole this data offers hope that we are getting serious about planting trees. 

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