Ethiopia lost more than 10,000 sq miles of forest between 1990~2015. Now the east African country is trying to reverse the trend with an ambitious tree-planting initiative.
Forest ecosystems provide nutrient cycling, water & air purification, wildlife biodiversity maintenance, and the most cost-efficient ways to capture CO2 emissions. “The global tree restoration potential” report recently published in Science claims we have about 3.5M sq miles (about the size of the US) of unused (that is, land we can use w/o affecting cities or agriculture) land available on which we can plant up to 1.2 trillion trees.
Let’s do a quick cost vs benefit analysis – the scientists project that with 1.2 trillion additional trees we could potentially wipe out 10 years worth of carbon emissions from the atmosphere. Planting 1.2 trilly trees would cost about $300 billy – which is actually not a lot when you think about the amount of $ we’re losing from global warming-related damages (for comparison, 2017 Atlantic hurricane season alone cost the US at least $265 bil). The lead scientist of the study even thinks a group of billionaires could pool some of their $ together and get it done.
Better late than never
Despite all the benefits listed above, we’re losing about 10 billion trees each year. However, there are now some global movements to address the deforestation problem. China, last year, pledged to increase its forest coverage to 23% of its total land area by next year and the Bonn Challenge, a global initiative, has restored to 150M hectares of forest and aims to restore 350M hectares by 2030.
Ethiopia, is one of the countries that’s on the front line of the reforestation efforts. The country is planning to plant 4 billion trees by fall 2019. On July 29th, they broke the Guinness world record by planting 350M trees in a single day.