Thanks to their unique know-how landscaping industry and landscapers are key factors in slowing climate change and ensuring better living conditions for future generations. We addressed the challenges of afforestation in our article on Lyon’s Canopy Plan, but what is happening on a global scale? Where are we at now and can we track reforestation efforts? As 2019 draws to a close, let’s try to take an overview!
The reforestation of our planet - a need everyone understands
Deforestation is going full blast and the figures are alarming! “In 1990 the world had 4128 million ha of forest; by 2015 this area had decreased to 3 999 million ha. This is a change from 31.6% of global land area in 1990 to 30.6% in 2015”, the UNO Food and Farming organization FAO reported in 2015 (1). This means less CO2 stored – a reduction estimated to be 11 trillion metric tons between 1990 and 2015 – which in turn will have a big impact on climate change.
Attempts are being made to influence this trend as we understand the importance of trees better and tree management is integrated into the policies of most countries. So, fortunately, as the same report states, “Planted forest area has increased by over 105 million ha since 1990.”
In addition to air depollution, the presence of trees enables better management of inevitably accentuated climatic phenomena like sandstorms and floods. Forests, whether primary, natural or replanted, significantly improve the surrounding biodiversity.
From an economic point of view, large-scale forestation contributes to job creation all over the world (for the landscaping industry this includes nursery gardeners and pruners) and the emergence of a new renewable wood-based economy. Many countries have launched their own reforestation and even afforestation projects – to recreate forests where they used to be – by planting millions of trees!
World tour of (very) large-scale reforestation projects
There are a host of large-scale reforestation and afforestation initiatives aiming to create a greener world. To give you an idea of the wide initiatives currently taking place, or to be carried out this century, we have compiled you a small, non-exclusive selection!
- This year Eire launched an ambitious government project called the “Climate Action Plan” to replant 8,000 hectares of forest a year between 2021 and 2030. An attempt to rectify the insufficient efforts of the “2014-2020 National Forestry Programme” which only planted 5,500 new hectares of forest in all.
- In 2016, India, with 6 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, got into the Guinness World Records Book for planting 50 million trees in 24 hours in Uttar Pradesh using 800,000 volunteers.
- “The Northern Forest” aims to bring more biodiversity to the North of England where forests only cover 7.6% of the surface (much less than the national average). It involves planting 50 million trees over 25 years. The return on investment of this large-scale action is evaluated at 2.5 billion pounds sterling.
- China, currently top of the reforestation class, started the “Grain for Green” program in 1999 which pays farmers to convert croplands to woodlands. This ongoing initiative has already retimbered over 28 million hectares in the country.
- Last but not least, it is important to discuss the “Great Green Wall” project being run by several countries which is creating an 8,000 km long active corridor from one end of Africa to the other to slow the progress of the desert. Once completed, the wall will be the biggest living structure on our planet – 3 times bigger than the Great Coral reef!
Some resources available to track global reforestation efforts
To track forestation progress The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration has launched an interactive atlas with several input possibilities like the zones where reforestation is possible, the status of forests on a global scale and the intensity of ground use by people.
Carbonbrief has also published an interactive map showing the afforestation performance of each country.
Last but not least, the Bonn Challenge signed by several countries is a worldwide project embracing a host of afforestation and reforestation actions. A detailed barometer released in 2017 highlights the results, country by country.
It is up to us to guarantee that this next decade will see many trees growing and that these reforestation and afforestation projects will continue to progress everywhere in the world. This is not only vital for the planet’s fauna and flora but also a source for all kinds of opportunities for the landscaping industry! So how many trees are you going to plant in 2020?
(1) FAO: Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 (pdf)
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