Climate change seems to be a serious concern these days, as we have started to experience its negative effects on a daily basis. Yet, if we consider its potential effects, we can conclude that the majority of us are turning a blind eye to the immediate need for initiatives that address this issue.
Greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere are one of the main causes of global warming, and scientists claim that we will reach a point of no return unless we do something until the estimated deadline of 2035.
If this threat has been ignored by many, New Zealand is not the case, as it decided to take it seriously.
Last year, it approved a plan to plant a billion trees in the next 10 years to alleviate climate change and allocated a budget of $485 million for the first three years.
It considers enacting a zero-emissions target by 2050, and this project could be a part of the cap-and-trade or emissions trading scheme( ETS) program.
Shane Jones, Forestry Minister, explained that this is one of the crucial levers the Government has to incentivize the planting of trees to reach the Billion Tree Programme’ s goal.
Trees also clean the air, water, and soil, prevent soil erosion, and provide food and shelter for birds and animals.
The Program is led by Te Uru Rakay and is funded by the Provincial Growth Fund. The official website states that the One Billion Trees Programme will deliver improved social, environmental, and economic outcomes for New Zealand.
Its goals include protection of the environment, optimization of land use, creating employment and workforce development, alleviating climate change, supporting Māori values and aspirations, and supporting their transition to a low-emissions economy.
The Government’s is to support increased planting of both permanent trees and plantation forests, including a mix of exotic and native tree species.
The Government allocated $120 million through the One Billion Trees Fund for direct grants to landowners to include trees on their farms.
As at 15 July this year, 110 million trees have been planted and more than 83 million seedlings are expected to be planted until the end of the year.
New Zealand has framed the tree planting plan in social uplift terms, and according to Jones, the forestry minister, the trees will help to rehabilitate degraded environments, help wildlife thrive and provide about 1,000 jobs.
While this program encouraged similar initiatives in India and Pakistan, not everyone is thrilled with this program. Some critics are pointing out that the government is being “disingenuous” about the source of funds for the said project.
Paul Goldsmith, spokesman of regional economic development, pointed out that this decision is extraordinary in times when the government is closing down maternity centers, canceling new funding for cochlear implants for children, breaking its promise of universal cheap GP visits and more funding for mental health initiatives by saying that it doesn’t have enough money.
Yet, in general, the initiative enjoys broad support, and this sort of all-hands-on-deck approach to environmental rehabilitation is exercised in other parts of the world as well. The first step towards the aim is for countries to drastically cut greenhouses emissions.
Studies have suggested that the most effective way to fight global warming is to plant lots of trees, and Swish scientists say that there is enough room for this.
Even with existing cities and farmland, there’s sufficient space for new trees to cover 9 million square kilometers, an area which is roughly the size of the United States.
These trees have been calculated to be able to suck up about 750 billion metric tonnes of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is as much carbon pollution as we have spewed in the past 25 years.
Are we willing to do something as easy as planting trees and save our planet?