Two nations recently announced ambitious projects to plant millions of trees in an effort to create new forests. The government of China has announced its plans to plant forests in 2018 that will occupy at least 6.6 million hectares, equivalent to the size of Ireland. The United Kingdom announced plans to repopulate one of the least wooded areas of country by way of 50 million new trees.
China, the pollution-beleaguered country plans to increase forest coverage to 23 percent of its total landmass by the end of the decade. As the United States absolutely forfeits its credibility on climate change, China has been eager to seize the moment by taking bold action to mitigate the impact of climate change.
As part of its cleanup campaign, China has been installing vast amounts of renewable energy from wind, solar, and hydroelectric sources and decommissioning coal-fired power stations as quickly as possible. It is also pushing the EV revolution hard with both financial and regulatory tools and may be one of the first nations to ban the sale of cars with internal combustion engines.
Zhang Jianlong, head of China’s State Forestry Administration, says, “Companies, organizations and talent that specialize in greening work are all welcome to join in the country’s massive greening campaign. Cooperation between government and social capital will be put on the priority list.” Zhang says China has invested more than $65 billion in new forests in the past 5 years.
The U.K. government unveiled plans for a vast new forest spanning the country from coast to coast, from Liverpool to Hull. The forest repopulate one of the least wooded parts of the country with local, mainly broadleaf tree species, it will also provide a band of newly greened landscape to escape to from the many big cities located nearby. Over the next 25 years, a vast swathe of woodland will be created over an 120 mile area to improve the environment and help prevent 190,000 homes from flooding. So far, the government has pledged just an initial £5.7 million of the £500 million needed to fully realize the project.
The plans, which will see 62,000 acres of woodland planted before 2050, is expected to generate £2 billion for the economy through tourism, and by boosting rural business and generating jobs.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Trees are some of our most cherished natural assets and living evidence of our investment for future generations. Not only are they a source of beauty and wonder, but a way to manage flood risk, protect precious species and create healthier places for us to work and live.”