Tree planting on the agenda
Late 2019 saw a surge of interest in tree planting. For example, during the December election campaign in the UK, political parties competed over how many trees they would plant if they were elected. Labour pledged to plant 2 billion trees by 2040; if extended to 2050 this would cover 25% of total land area (slightly above that recommended by the Committee on Climate Change), while the Conservatives pledged to plant 30 million trees per year between 2020 and 2025; if extended to 2050 this would cover 16.25% of total UK land area. For more information on the pledges, see here.
Enthusiasm for tree planting spread far beyond the UK. Perhaps most remarkable is Ethiopia’s claim to have planted 350 million native trees in one day, with the aim of increasing this to a total of 4 billion trees in three months across 6.5 million hectares of rural land. This forms part of the country’s aim to restore 15 million hectares of degraded ecosystems by 2030. While verifying the number of successfully planted trees is difficult, and it’s unclear whether and how these trees will be maintained, Ethiopia’s forest cover is now just 15% compared to 40% half a century ago. Therefore, even partial success of this scheme is likely to bring many benefits for people and wildlife.