Indian officials have reported that on July 11th, 800,000 volunteers from Uttar Pradesh spent 24 hours planting 49.3 million trees along roads, railways, and on public land. The saplings were raised on local nurseries and are made up of 80 different species.
This magical effort was in part due to India’s commitment to the Paris Agreement that was made in December 2015. In the agreement, signed on Earth Day 2016, India agreed to spend $6 billion to reforest 12 percent of its land (bringing total forest coverage to 235 million acres by 2030, or about 29 percent of the country’s territory).
With this excellent news comes more: Many countries around the world are fulfilling their pledge to the Paris Agreement in similar ways. African nations pledged to reforest 100 million hectares. A wide range of stakeholders from countries to companies also signed on to the non-binding New York Declaration of Forests that month, with the goal of halving deforestation by 2020 and ending it by 2030. The declaration also seeks to restore at least 350 million hectares of degraded land with healthy forests.
But, with all of these plantings comes great responsibility – Tree saplings, which are planted in such high numbers, have about a 40% mortality rate because they require water and care to prevent diseases from occurring. However, officials have said that great care will be taken by using aerial photography to monitor areas that might require special attention.
Officials also hope the trees will improve air quality in India, which suffers from some of the worst in the world. Right now, 6 of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world are in the country, but new trees can help remove some pollutants from the air.
Trees are the perfect remedy for climate change because they sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide from the air, thereby reducing greenhouse gases and releasing clean oxygen. Any one can plant a tree – if every person on this planet spent time just planting and caring for one tree, that would be 7 billion new trees added to this world. We would be well on our way to improving and reforesting our lost greenery around the globe.
Please continue to do your part in keeping our home clean for generations to come.