China's 40-year-old billion-tree project is instructive to the world

China's green campaign has been as enthusiastic about environmental campaigns as it has been or has been as controversial.

China's 40-year-old billion-tree project is instructive to the world

Every spring, government officials, teachers, students, and company employees go on tree planting tours. The state media gathers forest workers for praise. Movie stars become "tree planting ambassadors". This is a vein of the old communist propaganda campaign. Workers are uniting to overcome the forces of nature. March 12 is National Tree Planting Day.

Launched to protect the three regions flowing into the Gobi Desert, northeast, northeast and northeast, the so-called Three Northern Shelter Forest Program aims to cover 35 million hectares (87). Million acres (new trees) to grow. Germany's largest forest in the north of the country by 2050. Over the next four decades, tree planting became one of the preferred solutions to climate change in both the private and public sectors. The fate of China's vast forests serves as an early indication of the potential benefits of these other projects.

The program was troubled from the start due to poor planning, unrealistic demands of local party workers, and a poor understanding of where the jungle could grow successfully.

"We were taught the importance of planting trees at a very young age," says Sun Jing, director of the Elisha Foundation, which competes in the desert. "The idea that as many trees as possible are good is never challenged."

Although the mission was designed’ to last 72 years, local officials wanted quick results, so the majority of the trees planted were fast-growing poplars that could withstand the region's cold, dry winters. By the 1990s, large numbers of them began to die, falling prey to Asian long-horned beetles, which love softwoods, including poplars. The more plants China planted, the more they exploded.

One of those who witnessed the devastation was Zhang Jiang, a northern resident who graduated from Inner Mongolia Forest College. "We didn't expect so many trees to die," Zhang told Hong Kong Phoenix TV in an interview in 2016, when he headed the Chinese Forestry Bureau. "Having only one species attracts pests and diseases."

Authorities cut down millions of affected trees, some of which were converted’ into packing carats to boost China's international trade. (Because of this, the beetle larvae have been able to stop rides in Europe and North America, where governments are now spending a fortune to control inflation.) Meanwhile, the planting process continues - sometimes differently. Types of species are used’ but not often, if it were easy. Sometimes twice as many trees were planted’ as the land could sustain, based on the understanding that 50% could die.

Since 1978, there has been a formal increase in forest coverage, from 12% to 22%. NASA satellite images confirm that China is a world leader in vision. Bernhard Schmidt, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Zurich and Peking University, says: "It's better to do monoculture in a degraded place than to do nothing, but it's definitely better to do it." "The more species there are, the more the ecosystem functions."

A 2018 co-author's dissertation on science found that an average of 12 tons of carbon can be stored per hectare in a single farm, while a biodiversity forest can store 32 tones on a plot of the same size. Another study shows that China is paying more attention to how much carbon its trees are absorbing, because estimates are based’ on the number of trees planted, not the number that remains. Worse still, planting non-native trees in arid areas. Where most of China's forestry efforts are coming from. Not only does it have a low survival rate but it can also cause water shortages and damage to the ecosystem.

China has been more successful with plans to include trees and green spaces in fast-growing cities. Since 2004, about 170 cities have launched "forest city" campaigns to prevent green urban areas and pollution. Each city includes an average of 13,000 hectares of parks or forests. For example, in a new town 130 kilometers (80.8 miles) southwest of Beijing, more than 100 species of trees have been found’ in a program called Millennium Forest, endorsed by President Xi Jinping. This fall, 3,600 hectares will be’ planted. The plan aims to cover 40 percent of China's urban land with trees and green spaces in seven of the 10 cities by the end of the decade.

Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person. In the central city of Chongqing, former Communist Party leader Bo Xilai launched a large-scale tree-planting campaign to pave roads that grew entirely with his favorite species, ginkgo trees. The city spent 1.5 1.5 billion on planting trees in 2010, drying up its reserves and borrowing from neighboring provinces before removing the odor before an anti-corruption campaign ended in 2012 against a politically motivated one.

More recent evidence suggests that China has learned from past failures. New Beijing. The second phase of the Tianjin Sand Store Source Control Project has demanded that 85% of the dedicated land be handed over’ to "natural forests", a method of weeding declining land and allowing plants to grow naturally. But I have to come back. Critics, however, have questioned whether such an approach could be successful in areas where there is already a lot of dust or nutrient deficiencies.

Officials also acknowledge the importance of involving local communities. Many former tree planting projects have failed due to neglect. The Al Shan Foundation has developed a program that pays farmers to install 100 million Haloxylons in Alexa in Inner Mongolia. Small, hard desert trees grow on farmer-owned land, which can then grow on trees and cultivate a parasitic plant called herba cistanche, which is used’ in traditional Chinese medicine. If at least 65% survive, farmers are paid’ to grow the trees after three years.

"If you talk to farmers about climate change, they won't understand. But if the project has economic benefits and a better environment, it's much easier for them to get on board. "There's been criticism, but my experience living in Alexa and talking to the local villagers is improving the environment, so planting trees is better than deserting the land."

Despite all the obstacles, China sees its forestry efforts as a success, a "nature-based solution" that has become popular in government rhetoric. But the country's long and expensive planting program shows that deforestation is a complex and delicate task. It varies according to local conditions, and will provide economic and social benefits to those who have to take care of the trees for generations.

Beijing, meanwhile, has said it plans to export tree-planting programs to other countries, including more than 130 nations, under the "Belt and Road" initiative. According to the government-affiliated China Green Foundation, three "green economic belts" will be created’ by 2030 that connect China to Central and West Asian countries, including Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Turkey. Tree of choice for the program: Poplar.


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