By Lynsey Grosfield
- Forests are not only complex ecosystems and habitats for wildlife, they are also central to the livelihoods of around 2 billion people.
- The critical role they have in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere has led to many international reforestation projects.
- To help this global effort we've listed 10 key ways to improve tree planting.
There are around 60,000 tree species in the world, spread out across myriad ecosystems. Within these ecosystems, and around these trees, are countless other organisms ranging from the tiniest bacterium to the mightiest moose.
Between the trees, their landscapes and their peer flora and fauna, exist startlingly complex relationships that we're only just beginning to understand. The matter gets even more complex when you factor humans into the equation – around 2 billion people rely on forests alone, for work, food, shelter and water. Of course, trees play a massive role in sequestering carbon from our atmosphere.
It's perhaps no surprise then, that there are a healthy number of tree planting initiatives around the globe – run by businesses, governments and even individuals. Make no mistake: we need to be planting trees. But while many of these initiatives are certainly ambitious, it's important that we establish a set of best practices to get the most from the resources we put into restoring forests.
With our colleagues at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), and partners from around the world, we helped to develop a list of '10 golden rules' to improve tree planting efforts in terms of carbon sequestration, biodiversity and human livelihoods.
1. Protect Existing Forests First
Right now, the world is losing areas of forest equal to the size of the United Kingdom each year. This means less carbon is sequestered, and in many cases, more carbon dioxide emissions. Old growth forests are massive carbon sinks, and it can take hundreds of years for them to fully recover.
A crucial first step to preserve trees around the world is to simply protect the ones we have already. Governments of all levels, and corporations, should actively combat deforestation.
2. Work Together
Reforestation can be a truly daunting project, but at its core it needs to engage with local communities and the people who live and work with the trees themselves. Research suggests that many attempts at reforestation fail simply because they don't involve local communities.
The people living in the areas benefit from tree planting and forest maintenance, both economically through the creation of jobs, and in terms of health. They are also subject experts in the forests themselves, and the issues facing them.
For example, BGCI's project to conserve Malawi's national tree – the Mulanje cedar – not only resulted in more than 500,000 trees being planted, it also created more than more than 1,000 jobs for the local community, and trained over 200 people in nursery management and enterprise development to manage 10 community plant nurseries. Restoration works best when it has co-benefits for local livelihoods.
3. Aim to Maximize Biodiversity Recovery to Meet Multiple Goals
Forests and their relationships with humans, animals and other plants are deeply complex, and trying to understand the best ways to address many of the issues they face can be difficult. However, this interconnectivity means that by improving the health of the forest itself, you're improving the health of its neighbors and inhabitants.
Any reforestation project should be made to address multiple related goals, such as increasing biodiversity, helping local economies and reducing carbon emissions. However, there can be trade-offs, but priorities should be agreed upon by stakeholders at the beginning of the project, and based on science, the environment and the needs of the communities.
4. Select Appropriate Areas for Restoration
Not every plot of land is made equal when it comes to reforestation. Areas that were previously forested should be targeted. Some wild areas like wetlands, peatlands, and grasslands contribute a great deal of carbon sequestration, on top of their other ecosystems to humans and the environment at large. These are not suitable zones for tree planting efforts and planting trees in these places can displace biodiversity and do more harm than good. Target areas that either connect or expand on existing forests, or restore lost forests, thus helping improve their overall size and health.
5. Use Natural Regeneration Wherever Possible
Sometimes, it's best to let nature do the work for you. Natural regeneration is a process in which a forest, or other wooded area, regrows after a parcel of land is abandoned, or when a forest begins to mend itself after degradation. This is cheaper, easier, and in many cases, more effective. Carbon capture in naturally regenerated land can be 40 times greater than in plantations.
There are different levels of natural regeneration. The easiest is passive restoration, where no human intervention is involved. Low intervention includes protecting a region from fires, and selectively reintroducing native flora and fauna. But there are other cases – intermediate and high intervention – that involve more work. Whether natural regeneration is possible, and the amount of intervention required, will vary depending on the time since the area was cleared, land-use since clearance and distance from remaining forest patches.
6. Select Species to Maximize Biodiversity
Sometimes, natural regeneration is not possible, and human intervention needs to be part of the equation. In cases like this, it's essential to pick the right kinds of trees. Try to introduce only native species, including rare and endangered whenever possible, and bring in a good mix of species.
Reintroducing a wealth of biodiversity to a forest will help attract pollinators and restore habitats for a larger array of animals. These forests will also be more resistant to diseases, fires and extreme weather. Avoid invasive species at all costs.
A BGCI project in Uganda with Tooro Botanical Gardens (TBG), in just two years, has produced more than 260,000 seedlings of 100 indigenous species to support genetically and species diverse forest restoration. Reforestation is not just about getting trees in the ground: it's about providing the building blocks of an ecosystem.
7. Use Resilient Plant Material
As climate change continues to impact ecosystems around the world, the best tree species for reforestation are those that are resilient. Pick seeds and seedlings with a healthy amount of genetic diversity, as this can make the population less susceptible to pests and climate change. Make note of how the region is expected to change in the future, and try to choose tree species that anticipate the climate reality.
8. Plan Ahead for Infrastructure, Capacity and Seed Supply
Source trees, seeds and seedlings locally whenever possible. Establish a good, reliable supply chain for the reforestation project at every step of the process and plan this stage well before the beginning of the project.
Work with local communities, and train workers on the best practices for seed collecting, storing, planting, etc. Employing people from the area helps bolster local economies and makes use of their valuable experience and expertise in the region.
9. Learn by Doing
Start every project by reviewing scientific literature about the tree species and the region you want to grow them. Consult with the communities themselves so they can aid the process, and help you pick the right species and right places for them.
Then, try some small-scale trials before engaging in the process fully – it is essential to test the trees' effectiveness in the region before deploying all your resources. Keep monitoring your work through every stage of the process; keep a keen eye out on how the ecosystem is recovering, and change your processes as needed.
10. Make it Pay
Forest restoration isn't a cheap process. However, there are many different ways to bring new income streams into a project, and help benefit the different stakeholders involved. For example, consider selling sustainably produced forest products, or setting up an ecotourism operation. There are many ecological benefits to reforestation, but fostering a forest's health and biodiversity can also help local economies.
Follow These Rules to Support Reforestation
We designed these golden rules with a few things in mind, such as the importance of local and indigenous knowledge, and bringing money into the communities involved. We've taken lessons both from modern scientific research in the field, and success stories within it. However, even with these tips in mind, it's worth noting that this process is a tricky one with many moving parts and solutions that will have to be local.
But, irrespective of how you're involved in the reforestation process – or even if you're just an enthusiast – you can help global efforts by following these golden rules and supporting the right kind of reforestation. BGCI and our global network spearheads several initiatives to conserve trees and restore forests, whilst sticking to best practice, including the Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens, the Global Trees Campaign and the Tree Conservation Fund.
Reposted with permission from the World Economic Forum.
By Alex Kirby
New forests are an apparently promising way to tackle global heating: the trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activities. But there's a snag, because permanently lower river flows can be an unintended consequence.
A study by scientists at the University of Cambridge, UK, has found that river flow is reduced in areas where forests have been planted − and, significantly, it does not recover over time. Rivers in some regions can disappear completely within 10 years.
"Reforestation is an important part of tackling climate change, but we need to carefully consider the best places for it. In some places, changes to water availability will completely change the local cost-benefits of tree-planting programmes", said Laura Bentley, a plant scientist in the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute, and first author of the report.
Age Effect Missed
Planting large areas of trees has been suggested as one of the best ways of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, because trees absorb and store the gas as they grow, although uncertainties about the strategy persist. Science has known for a long time that planting trees reduces the amount of water flowing into nearby rivers, but no-one had realized how this effect changes as forests age.
The Cambridge study looked at 43 sites across the world where forests have been established, and used river flow as a measure of water availability in the region. It found that within five years of planting trees, river flow had reduced by an average of 25%.
But 25 years after the trees were planted, rivers had gone down by an average of 40%, or in a few cases had dried up altogether. The biggest percentage reductions in water availability were in parts of Australia and South Africa.
"River flow does not recover after planting trees, even after many years, once disturbances in the catchment and the effects of climate are accounted for," said professor David Coomes, director of the Conservation Research Institute, who led the study.
Published in the journal Global Change Biology, the research showed that the type of land where trees are planted determines the impact they have on local water availability.
Trees planted on natural grassland where the soil is healthy decrease river flow significantly. But on land previously degraded by agriculture, establishing a forest helps to repair the soil so that it can hold more water, and therefore decreases nearby river flow by a smaller amount.
Strangely, the effect of trees on river flow is smaller in drier years than in wetter ones. When trees are drought-stressed they close the pores on their leaves to conserve water, and as a result take up less water from the soil. In wet weather, though, they use more water from the soil, and also catch the rainwater in their leaves.
"Climate change will affect water availability around the world," said Bentley. "By studying how forestation affects water availability, we can work to minimize any local consequences for people and the environment."
Reposted with permission from Climate News Network.
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
Seven Amazon countries signed a pact Friday to protect the world's largest tropical rainforest in response to the record-breaking number of wildfires that have blazed through the Amazon rainforest this summer, Reuters reported.
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname agreed to create a network to coordinate their responses to disasters like this summer's fires. They also promised to increase the satellite monitoring of deforestation, share information on threats to the forest like illegal mining, develop reforestation and education initiatives and increase the participation of Indigenous communities.
"This meeting will live on as a coordination mechanism for the presidents that share this treasure―the Amazon," Colombian President Ivan Duque said, as Reuters reported.
Link to the official text of the Leticia Pact for the Amazon signed by 7 countries of the #Amazon Basin… https://t.co/uYrVPwTTrS— Justin Adams (@Justin Adams)1567802023.0
Fires in Brazil, which contains 60 percent of the Amazon within its borders, are up 83 percent this year compared to last, according to Reuters. Fires are also raging in Bolivia on its border with Brazil and Paraguay, BBC News reported.
Right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose pro-industry policies and rhetoric have been blamed for the increase in fires, did not attend the conference in person because he was preparing for surgery.
Instead, he attended via video. Bolsonaro, who rejected $22 million in aid from the G7 countries in August, urged the South American countries to manage the region without international interference.
"We must take a strong position of defense of sovereignty so that each country can develop the best policy for the Amazon region, and not leave it in the hands of other countries," Bolsonaro said, as AFP reported.
The meeting was held in Leticia in the Colombian Amazon. In addition to Duque, it was attended by Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Suriname Vice President Michael Adhin, Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo and Guyana Natural Resource Minister Raphael Trotman, Al Jazeera reported.
Indigenous leaders from Amazon communities impacted by fires and deforestation also attended the meeting, but some expressed doubts over how effective the pact would be. National Indigenous Organization of Colombia coordinator Nelly Kuiru told Al Jazeera that the pact was "very vague."
"I think it is important the presidents took the time to come to one of the Amazon's regions, in Colombia, and sign the pact. But I have doubts about it," she said. "I doubt the pact will be fulfilled, because to make a pact there first of all has to be an analysis of what is happening."
Moira Birss of conservation and Indigenous rights group Amazon Watch agreed. She said that the pact did not list the specific causes of deforestation and did not make a clear enough connection between deforestation and the climate crisis.
STATEMENT: Today the leaders of Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Suriname, & Guyana met about the #AmazonFires a… https://t.co/bXKVde77qm— AMAZON WATCH (@AMAZON WATCH)1567811692.0
"This is problematic both because ample scientific research has demonstrated the serious climate impacts of tropical forest deforestation, and because the direct causes of Amazon deforestation and degradation are widely known to be industrial activities like agribusiness and mining," she wrote in a statement.
Birss also pointed out that the language of the text implied that signatories saw the Amazon more as an economic asset than a vital ecosystem:
"Furthermore, the pact's frequent mention of the 'value' of the trees and biodiversity of the Amazon, and of the 'development' of its natural resources, seem to indicate that the signatories view the rainforest as a commodity to be exploited rather than a vital ecosystem and the ancestral home to indigenous peoples that must be protected.
"This reading of the pact is supported by recent events: this week the Bolsonaro administration has pushed for even more rollbacks to environmental protections in the country's Forest Code, and Ecuador's new Environment Minister declared on Wednesday that, "where there are natural resources, there will be extraction.'
"Responses to the Amazon fires will never be effective in protecting the rainforest unless they confront the key driver of Amazon deforestation: profit-seeking at the expense of the rights of forest peoples and environmental protection."
The Amazon is in fact home to around one million people who belong to 500 Indigenous groups, according to Reuters.
In an EcoWatch Live interview last week, founder and president of the Amazon Aid Foundation Sarah duPont stated that "There are more trees in the Amazon than there are stars in the Milky Way."
EcoWatch Live Interview with the Amazon Aid Foundation
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"Thanks to you guys, you've pledged more than a million trees all over the world to try and offset that ignorance," Adrien Taylor, one of the three founders of the project, said in a video message announcing the milestone. "In doing so, you've not only offset some of the carbon emissions that have come out of the Trump administration, you've also helped reforest communities, and you've helped create a small silver lining in the very dark cloud of ignorance which is in the White House."
One million trees! Just 11 months ago, we launched an effort to offset @realDonaldTrump's #climatechange ignorance… https://t.co/hmrLlI5SMr— Trump Forest (@Trump Forest)1519067320.0
The idea behind the effort is simple. "US President Donald Trump doesn't believe in the science of human-caused climate change. He wants to ignore one of the greatest threats to healthy life on Earth," the project website states.
"Trump wants to bring back coal despite scientists telling us we cannot afford to burn it, and despite economists telling us there's more money to be made and more jobs available in renewable energy," the statement continues. "So we're planting a forest to soak up the extra greenhouse gases Trump plans to put into our atmosphere. We're planting a global forest to offset Trump's monumental stupidity."
The forest does not have a single, physical location. Rather, anyone who wants to participate in the project can plant trees anywhere around the world in Trump's name. Once that's done, you send the group a receipt so the contribution is added to the global Trump Forest map. You can also directly donate to Trump Forest partner Eden Reforestation Projects, a non-profit that works in developing countries to rebuild natural landscapes destroyed by deforestation.
The organizers' goal is to plant 10 billion trees—an area roughly the size of Kentucky—to make up for the carbon dioxide that would be released into the atmosphere should the Trump administration continue to roll back environmental regulations and push for fossil fuels.
"One million trees is only the beginning," co-founder Dr. Dan Price, a British climate scientist, said.
"Despite new evidence of the chaos of climate change everyday, Trump continues to use his position to exacerbate the problem and prop up the fossil fuel industry. We really look forward to making Earth great again."
Thousands of people from all over the globe have stood up with us to say that the actions of the White House are no… https://t.co/Iujy5ao0eH— Trump Forest (@Trump Forest)1519067771.0
To achieve this goal, China has reassigned more than 60,000 soldiers to plant the trees. According to the Asia Times, a large regiment from the People's Liberation Army, along with some of the nation's armed police force, have been withdrawn from their posts near the northern border to work on the task.
The majority of the troops will be dispatched in the heavily polluted industrial province of Hebei, which has pledged to raise total forest coverage to 35 percent by the end of 2020.
China's State Forestry Administration aims to increase the whole country's forest coverage rate to 23 percent from 21.7 percent by the end of the decade. Then from 2020 to 2035, China plans to further boost the percentage of forest coverage to 26 percent.
China is the world's largest emitter and remains heavily dependent on coal, but has been cleaning up its act in recent years due to concerns over the impacts of air pollution and climate change. The country is investing heavily in renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric cars.
Remarkable Forest Hotel Takes Green Architecture to a Whole New Level https://t.co/iadfRi8zpE @Ecobuild_Now @GreenAllianceUK— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1464817211.0
The announcement was made last week by Zhang Jianlong, the head of China's State Forestry Administration, in an effort to shed the country's image as a major polluter and become a global environmental leader, the Telegraph reported.
China is the world's largest emitter and remains heavily dependent on coal, but the country has been cleaning up its act in recent years due to concerns over the impacts of air pollution and climate change.
The administration announced several forestry goals, which include increasing the country's forest coverage rate to 23 percent from 21.7 percent by the end of the decade. Then from 2020 to 2035, China plans to further boost the percentage of forest coverage to 26 percent.
"Companies, organizations and talent that specialize in greening work are all welcome to join in the country's massive greening campaign," Jianlong said. "Cooperation between government and social capital will be put on the priority list."
The new forest areas will be built in the northeast Hebei province, the Qinghai province in the Tibetan Plateau and in the Hunshandake Desert in Inner Mongolia.
Zhang said that China has spent more than 538 billion yuan (about $83 billion) on planting forests over the past five years, putting the country's total forest area to 208 million hectares.
According to Reuters, the government is also promoting an "ecological red line" program to force provinces and regions to restrict "irrational development" to curb construction near rivers, forests and national parks.
By Mike Gaworecki
Last Thursday, at the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany (known as COP23), the World Resources Institute (WRI) announced that $2.1 billion in private investment funds have been committed to efforts to restore degraded lands in the Caribbean and Latin America.
The investments will be made through WRI's Initiative 20×20, which has already put 10 million hectares (about 25 million acres) of land under restoration thanks to 19 private investors who are supporting more than 40 restoration projects.
Agriculture, forestry and other land uses are responsible for about a quarter of global greenhouse emissions, but in Latin America and the Caribbean, they account for roughly half of all emissions. That's why these sources of climate pollution are featured in the action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (or NDCs), submitted by many countries as part of the Paris climate agreement (that's also why the UN's program for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, REDD+, was included in the Paris agreement as a standalone article).
There's a plethora of recent research showing that, while halting deforestation is of course critical, the restoration of degraded forests and other landscapes are a vital component to meeting the Paris agreement's target of keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius.
Deforestation on the Peru-Brazil border.Rhett Butler
Forests currently remove an estimated 30 percent of manmade carbon emissions from the atmosphere, but a suite of studies released on the eve of COP23 found that they could be sequestering far more—an additional 100 billion metric tons of carbon by the year 2100—if we were to allow young secondary forests to regrow and improve forest management, which would buy us more time to transition the global economy away from fossil fuels and towards renewables.
Another recent study finds that "natural climate solutions," which consist of a number of conservation, restoration and improved management actions that help increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse gas emissions from forests, wetlands, grasslands and agricultural lands, have the potential to reduce emissions by 11.3 billion metric tons every year by 2030—thus providing 37 percent of the emissions reductions necessary to keep global temperature rise below 2°C.
WRI originally launched Initiative 20×20 at COP20 in Lima, Peru with a target of restoring 20 million hectares of land in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2020. The initiative was intended to support the goals of the Bonn Challenge, a commitment by dozens of countries and some private entities that have pledged to restore more than 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020, and the New York Declaration on Forests, which aims to restore 350 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2030.
So far, 16 countries have committed to restoring 53.2 million hectares of land through Initiative 20×20, far outsripping the initial goal of the program.
"Restoration in Latin America is an unmissable opportunity," Walter Vergara, the coordinator of Initiative 20×20 at WRI, said in a statement. "With more than $2 billion of investments earmarked for Latin America alone, restoration is a climate solution that works and is a great investment. Bringing degraded and deforested lands back to life is a win-win-win for investors, governments and local communities. This is precisely why restoration continues to build political and financial momentum."
But the $2.1 billion in investments pledged so far could have implications beyond Latin America and the Caribbean as investors "move more quickly than ever to capitalize on the business of planting trees," Vergara added.
"WRI research shows the economic benefits of restoring 20 M ha of degraded land in Latin America could reach $23 billion, while at the same time reducing GHG emissions, improving food security and livelihoods. The success of Initiative 20×20 in attracting private investment in Latin America is a model for success for other regions and can deliver major emission reductions to meet commitments to the Paris agreement."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
More than 800,000 people turned out Monday in India to plant trees in hopes of breaking a world record.
Uttar Pradesh officials distributed 50 million tree saplings across the state to help India increase its forest cover and to break the Guinness World record for the number of trees planted in 24 hours—which was set by Pakistan in 2013 with 847,275 trees—the AP reported. Students, lawmakers, government officials and others headed out to plant trees at designated spots along roads, rail tracks and in forested lands.
Indian state plants 50 million saplings in a single day: Hundreds of thousands of people in India’s most popu... https://t.co/3AERnwLGO3— CITY DXB GUIDE (@CITY DXB GUIDE)1468301715.0
Uttar Pradesh's Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, told the AP that this record-breaking attempt would help spread awareness and enthusiasm about afforestation and conservation.
"The world has realized that serious efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global climate change. Uttar Pradesh has made a beginning in this regard," he said.
The Indian government is encouraging all states to start tree-planting drives like the one in Uttar Pradesh. The government has designated more than $6.2 billion for this purpose alone. India pledged to push its forest cover to 235 million acres by 2030.
Sites where the saplings have been planted with be monitored through aerial photographs, Sanjeev Saran, senior forest official, told the AP. Normally, only 60 percent of saplings survive so it is important for the government to check how many are thriving or dying.
Auditors from Guinness World Records, working "incognito" according to Saran, are checking on the numbers of saplings planted.
"They are out in the field and are supervising the plantation drive," he said. "We do not know who they are or where they are at this point in time."