Putting down roots

1st February 2024


Ajirioghene Samuel looks at some exciting tree-planting initiatives, offering nature-based solutions to climate change impacts

A functioning forest embodies the stability of nature and its resources. Currently, the danger of losing tree species to deforestation and anthropogenic uses has become a key driver for tree-planting initiatives. On average, about 30 to 40 years is required for a tree to attain full maturity, but fewer trees reach their maturity in today’s climate.

Trees provide vital services and materials, such as paper, timber, greening of cities, and many others. Recently, cleaning our polluted air and forest reclamation have become priorities. Around the world, trees are more crucial than ever for a sustainable future. This, along with other drivers, has made tree-planting one of the most popular nature-based solutions we have today. Let’s look at some of the major tree-planting projects in recent times.

Happier and healthier

The Northern Forest is home to one of the largest tree-planting projects in the UK. The aim of the scheme is to plant 50 million trees and transform the landscape of the formerly scarce woodland. The project also aims to create new jobs, reduce the risk of flooding, sequester thousands of tonnes of carbon and create more resilient landscapes to encourage nature recovery and make people happier and healthier.

Generally, in the UK there is an upwards trajectory of tree-planting programmes to achieve net zero by 2050, reduce the impact of climate change and turn the tide on biodiversity decline.

In Germany, Mediterranean trees are being planted to withstand climate change effects such as dry seasons and other extreme climatic conditions. In France, there are various initiatives to support local actions to preserve rural trees, aiming to plant/preserve one billion trees by 2030 to capture carbon and improve biodiversity. Other countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Ireland have tree-planting initiatives as national projects.

The US has invested billions of dollars in programmes such as One Tree Planted and Plant-A-Tree, among others, to propagate tree-planting in various states. These programmes together are responsible for more than 100 million trees being planted across Texas, California, Florida and other states. The Pine Forest, once North America’s largest, is also undergoing a full recovery through tree-planting and reclamation programmes to save species and biodiversity.

Endangered species

In Asia, trees are being planted to recover habitats that are necessary for endangered species. Singapore has committed to planting more than one million trees by 2030. Countries such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have embarked on major initiatives to restore land through tree-planting, aiming for a combined total of 47.5 million. China alone is on a mission to plant seven billion trees in the same timeframe to combat deforestation and climate change.

A particularly exciting tree-planting project ongoing in Africa is the Great Green Wall initiative by the African Union to reverse desertification of the Sahel savannah. East and West Africa are currently engaging in this initiative by planting over 16 million trees and counting.

Communities and governments are coming together to create mandates for tree-planting in order to combat climate change through nature-based solutions. This suggests that planting trees is no longer just an option but a necessity for a sustainable future. Tree-planting is a simple yet powerful way to address climate change and its associated environmental and social challenges. It is an accessible solution that can be implemented at both a local and global level to make a meaningful impact on the planet’s health.

Ajirioghene Samuel AIEMA is an environmental and social risk management officer at Guaranty Trust Bank, Nigeria

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