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A forest surrounds the Great Wall of China. Pexels

China to Plant New Forests the Size of Ireland This Year

China's government announced plans for a major reforestation project. The country aims to grow about 6.66 million hectares of new forests this year, an area roughly the size of Ireland.

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.

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Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Tree Recovery Campaign Aims to Plant 5 Million Trees in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria didn't just destroy buildings and dump several feet of water into several American communities—the powerful winds also snapped and downed innumerable trees, altering treasured landscapes.

That's why the Arbor Day Foundation launched its Hurricane Tree Recovery Campaign in an effort to help tree restoration efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico following this year's string of devastating hurricanes. The program, which debuted in October, aims to plant a total of five million trees over the next five years as a way to contribute to the rebuilding efforts in the affected communities.

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Prescribed fire in Tulare, California. USDA Forest Service

Record 129 Million Dead Trees in California

By U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Monday announced that an additional 27 million trees, mostly conifers, died throughout California since November 2016, bringing the total number of trees that have died due to drought and bark beetles to an historic 129 million on 8.9 million acres. The dead trees continue to pose a hazard to people and critical infrastructure, mostly centered in the central and southern Sierra Nevada region of the state.

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Paradise, New Zealand

New Zealand Government to Plant 100 Million Trees Yearly

New Zealand's next prime minister Jacinda Ardern has set ambitious environmental policies to confront a warming planet.

"I do anticipate that we will be a government, as I said during the campaign, that will be absolutely focused on the challenge of climate change," said Ardern, whose Labour party has signed a coalition agreement with the New Zealand First party.

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Dead and dying trees on forest lands in California, August 2016. USFS Region 5 Flickr

102 Million Trees Have Died in California's Drought

California's six years of drought has left 102 million dead trees across 7.7 million acres of forest in its wake, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced following an aerial survey. If that is not horrendous enough, 62 million trees died in the year 2016 alone—an increase of more than 100 percent compared to 2015.

In the photo below, all the dead trees are grey or orange.

"The scale of die-off in California is unprecedented in our modern history," Randy Moore, a forester for the U.S. Forest Service, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that trees are dying "at a rate much quicker than we thought."

"You look across the hillside on a side of the road, and you see a vast landscape of dead trees," added Adrian Das, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist whose office is located in Sequoia National Park. "It's pretty startling."

Most of the dead trees are located in 10 counties in the southern and central Sierra Nevada region.

"Five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to these historic levels of tree die-off," the USFS said.

Forest Service experts believe that more trees will die in the coming months and years due to root diseases, bark beetle activity or other stress agents. The agency warned that tree deaths are on the rise in northern regions, especially in Siskiyou, Modoc, Plumas and Lassen counties.

The lack of rain and unseasonably high temperatures has added stress to the trees. These factors have made trees increasingly vulnerable to bark beetles infestations and disease.

Some have raised concerns that the staggering number of dead trees can fuel even bigger and more destructive wildfires in the Golden State.

Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack lamented that not enough resources are being invested into forest health and restoration.

"These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California," Vilsack said in a statement.

Not only that, researchers from the University of Washington found that large forest die-offs—from drought, heat, beetle infestations or deforestation—can significantly impact global climate patterns and alter vegetation on the other side of the world. The study was published this month in PLOS ONE.

"When trees die in one place, it can be good or bad for plants elsewhere, because it causes changes in one place that can ricochet to shift climate in another place," said lead author Elizabeth Garcia. "The atmosphere provides the connection."

In October 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state's unprecedented tree die-off a state of emergency. He formed a Tree Mortality Task Force to help mobilize additional resources for the safe removal of dead and dying trees.

However, some experts have suggested leaving the dead trees in the forests. Douglas Bevington, the forest program director for Environment Now, wrote that dead trees are vital to forest ecosystems.

"Dead trees can remain standing for decades or more and a standing dead tree—known as a 'snag'—provides great habitat for wildlife. Birds and mammals make their homes in openings carved within snags, while wood-boring insects that feed on snags provide the foundation of the food chain for a larger web of forest life, akin to plankton in the ocean," he wrote.

"From the perspective of the timber industry, a snag in the forest is a waste, so timber companies and the Forest Service have spent decades cutting down snags as quickly as possible," Bevington continued. "As a result, there is now a significant lack of snags in our forests and this shortage is harming woodpeckers, owls and other forest wildlife. For them, the recent pulse of snag creation is good news."

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10 of the World's Most Incredible Trees

Myth, tradition, inspiration, culture, religion and many other aspects of human life are written into the rings of history within a tree's trunk. Trees would do just fine if humans ceased to exist—but humans would most definitely not survive without trees. They reduce carbon dioxide while producing oxygen, moderate ecosystems, prevent erosion, and provide shelter, building materials, energy and even nutrition. They are simply amazing.

In partnership with NBCUniversal's Green is Universal program and the Arbor Day Foundation, we bring you a breathtaking (or rather, breath-giving) tree gallery. When you share this gallery and use #ShareATree, you're helping the Arbor Day Foundation plant real trees. For every 25,000 shares, NBCUniversal will donate $5,000 to the Arbor Day Foundation, up to $25,000.

Share this awesome gallery and make our planet a little greener.

Rainbow Eucalyptus

The Tree of Life

Bodhi Tree

Major Oak

Baobab

Cotton Tree

Anne Frank Tree

Methuselah

El Árbol del Tule


Reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.

Science

Trees Believed 'Extinct' for 20 Years Discovered in the Queen's Garden

A species of elm thought to be extinct in the UK has just been discovered in one of the Queen's gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The 100-foot tall "weeping" Wentworth elms were found during a recent botanical survey of the gardens surrounding the Queen's official residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Wentworth elmRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Dr. Max Coleman of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), who identified the trees, admitted the fact that they were found in plain sight is rather odd.

The trees were thought to have been wiped-out in the devastating Dutch elm disease epidemic that destroyed between 25 and 75 million trees in Britain during the late 20th century. Since then, Coleman said the Edinburgh city council has been surveying and removing diseases elms to help fight the spread.

"Without that work many more of the thousands of elms in Edinburgh would have been lost," Coleman said. "The success of this program may be partly demonstrated in the way two rare trees have been preserved."

Now, the RBGE is trying to figure out how the trees got there. Archives have revealed that three Wentworth elms arrived at RBGE from Germany in 1902, after which all subsequent records refer to a single tree at the garden. That elm died in 1996 when it succumbed to the disease.

"It is very tempting to speculate that the Wentworth elms at the palace are the two missing trees from RBGE," Coleman said.

Coleman said anecdotal evidence indicates that there was a close relationship between the RBGE and the palace in the early 20th century, and the head gardener at Holyrood had trained at the garden.

"Although we have no record here of elms going out, we know that a large number of ivy plants went from here to Holyrood to plant round the abbey ruins," he said.

Now that the Wentworth elm species has been given a second chance at life, horticulturalists are considering ways to propagate the trees so that they can make sure a second extinction doesn't occur.






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800,000 People Attempt to Plant 50 Million Trees to Break Guinness World Record

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.

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."

How to Make Your Fire More Eco-Friendly

Did you know that the wood you burn in your fireplace can have an impact on the environment?

The smoke created from wood burning can contribute significantly to air pollution and public health problems, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Wood smoke can be a primary source of exposure to fine particle pollution and contains other toxic (and some cancer-causing) compounds, such as carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene and formaldehyde.

It's important to burn the right kind of fuel, according to an article in Mother Jones. That's because the cooler your fire, the more particulate emissions and soot the fire produces. Hard woods like maple, ash, oak and beech burn hotter than soft woods like pine and fir. Be sure to use wood that has been dried for at least a year and never burn wet wood.

The extension office of Utah State University has a guide Heating with Wood, which gives tips on buying and burning firewood. Below is their table on the special characteristics of a number of wood species. Click on image to see a larger version.

 

Visit EcoWatch’s TIPS page for more related news on this topic.

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