BAYONNE: The conflagration of the Amazonian rainforests drew the attention of the world to deforestation and the loss of biodiversity.
Out of this tragedy, there is much to hope in terms of global efforts toward reforestation, that has recently been undertaken in various parts of the world in the last decade to restore the ecological system by planting more trees and putting an end to the decrease of forest cover.
For example, In the 2000s, more than 20 countries came together in an African-led movement, “The Great Green Wall” with an ambition to plant an 8,000 km strip of trees extending from Senegal to Djibouti. “Once complete, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, 3 times the size of the Great Barrier Reef” highlights the concerned organization. The initiative is proving to be successful as it brought life to degraded landscape, improving economic and food security for millions of people. For instance, in Senegal, over 10 million drought-resistant trees were planted in a decade.
In Ethiopia and Nigeria, 15 million and 3 million hectares of degraded land have been respectively rehabilitated. Similarly, in Niger, 5 million hectares have been restored increasing grain harvest by 500,000 tonnes per year which is sufficient to feed over 2 million people.
Moreover, the Ethiopian government kicked off an operation to put a limit to rising deforestation and boost the local economy by placing the country on a green trajectory. Abiy Ahmed, the country’s prime minister spearheaded a reforestation campaign “Green legacy”.
His office stated that this campaign “is an ambitious undertaking to become a green society by planting various types of eco-friendly seedling to combat environmental degradation and, a national platform that will be used for various societal green activities.” In the framework of “Green Legacy”, Ethiopia aimed at planting 200 million trees across the country in 12 hours on the 29th of July, 2019. Millions of Ethiopians were invited to participate in this challenge. At the end of the day, the Office of the prime minister tweeted “Congratulations #Ethiopia for not only meeting our collective #GreenLegacy goal but also exceeding it. #PMOEthiopia”. It is believed that on this day Ethiopia succeeded to plant over 350 million trees which breaks India’s record of planting 66 million trees in 12 hours in 2017. Ethiopia’s ambition is even bigger than planting hundreds of millions of trees. The country aims at planting over 4 billion trees by October 2019 (during the rainy season) according to a tweet by the office of the prime minister on the 26th of May 2019.
Furthermore, the Philippines chose a legal incentive to increase the share of the plantation, as, in May 2019, the house of representative passed a new law “the Graduation Legacy For the Environment Act” requiring each student to plant a minimum of 10 trees in order to graduate. Lawmakers consider that this act will have significant impacts. "With over 12 million students graduating from elementary and nearly five million students graduating from high school and almost 500,000 graduating from college each year, this initiative, if properly implemented, will ensure that at least 175 million new trees would be planted each year,” stated Gary Alejano, the representative of the Magdalo Party-List.
Some initiatives have also been undertaken at a local rather than at a national level. For example, earlier this summer, Anne Hildago, the mayor of Paris, announced her ambition increasing the share of greenery in the French capital by building “urban forests” which are set to appear in 2020. The mayor highlighted the urgency to act, “we must act today to avoid not being able to live in this city in the future” She believes that the initiative will have a lot of benefits and will reduce air pollution in the atmosphere.
As implemented measures and reforestation programs proved to have a range of positive impacts including the restoration of the ecological system, the increase of economic and food security as well as the reduction of atmospheric pollution, more governments are invited to take similar initiatives and develop respective public policies.
Reem Khamis graduated from the Lebanese American University with a Bachelor Degree in Architecture and got her Master's Degree in Environmental and Energy Management from the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Her thesis focuses on urban resilience and climate change adaptation in megacities using a comparative approach of Cairo, London, and New York. Khamis is currently doing her Ph.D. in Environmental and Energy Solutions at the University of Pau and Pays de L'Adour in France.
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