Saving cities up to $505 million a year, trees are the underdog we tend to dismiss too often. After planting a record-breaking 66 million trees in 12 hours, Indian volunteers have inspired even greater reforestation attempts. Conservation International is going big, attempting to restore 70,000 acres of the Amazon forest.
“If the world is to hit the 1.2°C or 2°C [degrees of warming] target that we all agreed to in Paris, then protecting tropical forests in particular has to be a big part of that,” [says] M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International.
Stopping the seemingly trivial issue of deforestation can cut up to 37% of carbon emissions. To rehabilitate the Amazon, the group is using the muvuca strategy. This tactic combines over 200 native forest species that have a 90% chance of successful germination.
“With muvuca, the initial outcome is 2,500 species per hectare. And after 10 years, you can reach 5,000 trees per hectare. It’s much more diverse, much more dense, and less expensive than traditional techniques.”
Even better, Conservation International is employing indigenous communities and family farmers. A few million trees have already been planted, and it seems an appetite for change is growing along with them.
Since carbon emissions and the resource greed epidemic caused the downfall of nature, many have scrambled for a quick solution. While Peru is keeping its unscathed plantations guarded, China is restoring millions of woodland hectares. Not too far behind is the City of Love, aiming to reforest 5.2 square miles of land. The anticipated lush of trees will be 5 times larger than Central Park.
For around a century, Pierrelaye-Bessancourt has been a literal wasteland. From 1896 to the 1990s, the city of Paris sprayed sewage residue across 865 acres of the fields to fertilize them.
The unofficial landfill will take 30 to 50 years to mature into a succulent plantation. In the meantime, it’ll host a swell of hiking trails, equestrian center, and conservation areas. However, the ambitious plan will inevitably face some setbacks.
As many as 1,500 trailers are squatting on the land, and getting full approval will require a lengthy series of community meetings.
Still, a great portion of the planet has seen urban transformations over the centuries. I’m sure some parts won’t mind kicking it old school.
Drone technology, among other things, has made reforestation more effective than it has ever been. An abundance of more systematic methods of tree-planting is inspiring many to participate in cutting carbon emissions. For New Zealand in particular, the idea is to go big or go home. Its ambitious government has sworn to plant 270,000 trees a day in order to reach its target of 1 billion in just a decade.
“It’s going to take commitment… we would expect and we would hope that [the Government] is going to try and enlist a private sector investor here because… trying to do it by themselves isn’t a clever idea.” [says Forest Owners Association CEO David Rhodes.]
As a country so heavily reliant on lush forestry, it’s no surprise that New Zealand has previously attempted projects of this scale. The 90s saw some success, with workers planting nearly 100,000 hectares of trees annually. Though 1 billion trees seems to be the government’s greatest obstacle, it’s working with the forest industry that is.
“It’s not just new planting, but sending the right signals to the current investors that it’s worth getting back into the game.”
With hundreds of jobs bound to become available, I can’t imagine seeing this project hit the back burner.
In the grand scheme of trying to make the world a better place, we sometimes forget about protecting our wildlife. Every now and then, a war veteran will fight for elephant rights, or a president will adopt a dog. Now, Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, along with the Wildlife Conservation Network, is working to save lions from extinction through the Lion Recovery Fund.
“100% of every dollar raised will go directly to the partners in the field with zero administrative fees or overhead.”
“We’re losing our planet’s wildlife – even such iconic species as the African Lion – at a dangerously rapid pace. An astonishingly small amount of philanthropic dollars go towards protecting wildlife‚ but together we can turn that around.”
Lion conservation is not just about hard work — it demands collaboration. This means wildlife organizations, governments, and donor communities all need to play an active role, and fast. Current lion populations are a tenth of what they used to be just a century ago.
“More than 26 countries have already lost their lion populations and without action‚ lions may disappear from many of their remaining strongholds‚”
We are losing the species to habitat loss via agriculture and deforestation, poaching, and invasion of wild lands. While I wish it didn’t take celebrity endorsements to encourage action, it may be the drive we need at the moment.
I’ve seen my fair share of unusual protests on the news. Belgian farmers squirting cow milk to object collapsing milk prices. A woman hanging from a boutique ceiling with fish hooks to challenge shark extinction. Extreme but effective, as I like to put it. However, activists in Romania have taken a milder approach to protest illegal logging by painting an entire forest every color of the rainbow.
A team of activists and volunteers, led by Romanian visual artist Mihai Topescu, spent the days between June 30th and July 3rd covering over 600 trees in eco-friendly paint.
Topescu hopes to create a space that encourages meditation, reflection, and self discovery. The artist described the piece as “some kind of manifesto against everything that happens with deforestation, an artistic manifesto.”
Participants have playfully dubbed their colorful wonderland Art Land “Gradina Paradisului” or “The Garden of Paradise.”
The scale of deforestation… cites a total of 9,444 registered cases of illegal logging in 2016—nearly 26 cases per day, on average.
Fines for logging have hit a massive $8 million. While I can’t put my finger on the need to uproot so many trees, deforestation remains an unfortunate reality. It’s a relief to know that people like Topescu are taking matters into their own hands–armed with a mighty paintbrush.