Home Flora & Fauna Mere restricting deforestation won’t help, reversing it will

Mere restricting deforestation won’t help, reversing it will

by Editor's Desk
Mere restricting deforestation won’t help, reversing it will

The TrickyScribe: Trees are among those very crucial components that make Earth a healthy and prosperous home for people and wildlife. The global stock, however, has fallen – and continues to fall – dramatically. We’re losing as many as 10 billion trees annually.

Fewer trees on Earth surface means more carbon emitted than absorbed, dwindling freshwater stores, altered rainfall patterns, fewer nutrients to enrich soils, weakened resilience to extreme events and climate change, shrinking habitat for wildlife and other forms of biodiversity, insufficient wood supply to meet rising demand, harsher local climates, and harder lives for more than one billion forest-dependent peoples across the world.

Most of the forest-dwelling populations worldwide are still marginalized as far as their representation in academic, economic and social circles is concerned. It doesn’t have to be this way. The two key steps that will reverse these trends – keeping existing trees standing, and restoring trees to the places they once grew – are within our capabilities.

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People, albeit in sporadic instances, have taken to afforestation. While some plant saplings on their birthdays the others mark inauguration events with it. Afforestation is in vogue after all!

It’s clear to one and all about how bad deforestation rates are? How important reversing this trend is as it’s the sole solution to many of the planet’s major problems? This is not news! Deforestation and forest restoration is, rightly, firmly on the global political agenda, rooted in initiatives like New York Declaration on Forests, Sustainable Development Goals, Bonn Challenge and Paris Agreement.

There has been a spurt in corporate and administrative commitments to shun deforestation, and there’s more public and private funding available than ever before, but something isn’t working. In short, commitments aren’t becoming canopies; finance isn’t turning into forest. Companies and countries are struggling to deliver.

Funders are not getting the right projects, and frontline conservation programmes are finding funding difficult. The Trillion Trees programme, which aspires a world where “one trillion trees have been re-grown, saved from loss, and better protected around the world by 2050, christens this as the ‘implementation gap’. It’s an ambitious goal yet achievable!

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The key part is the latter: determined and collective action by all. It’s not possible to do this by ourselves. We must work with others, and recognise the good work already underway. Together we need to inspire the world to change: starting new projects, supporting existing ones and bringing the right funding to the right action.

“The trillion is the result of doing what we must and stop climate change,” said Tim Rayden, Sustainable Landscapes Unit, WCS. “This means maximising the land sector’s contribution to the Paris Agreement, by arresting forest loss, and restoring sufficient land to meet the Bonn Challenge commitments,” Tim added.

Why a trillion?

The Trillion Trees vision wasn’t chosen for alliteration but it’s an accurate estimate of the scale of change that is required to keep the planet stable. Several types of research have indicated that Earth was once covered by six trillion trees. Of which, only three trillion are left! Earth is losing ten billion trees annually. Human activity has been the main driving force for this steep decline. Human beings can, and must, be the main driving force to increase it again.

“It’s about the right trees in the right places,” said CEO, BirdLife International, Patricia Zurita. “With responsible land-use comprising almost 25 percent of the global climate solution… Trillion Trees is our contribution to one of the largest societal priorities of the twenty-first century.”

With better agricultural practices backed by corporate and public policy changes, large areas of land can be left as, or restored to, forests. Forests have been degraded and have space for more trees to regrow. Abandoned, degraded lands exist where natural forests can return. Well-managed plantations or woodlots can provide sustainable fuel, food and, fibre.

How it Works?

To see a world where forests grow, rather than shrink, The Trillion Trees works at a landscape-wide scale, combining better protection, natural re-growth and targeted planting. A series of pilot landscape Initiatives are underway: Gola Rainforest Cocoa in Sierra Leone is truly deforestation-free, with farmers getting a fair price for their produce, improving local standards of living. Around protected areas in Cambodia, rice farmers are adopting wildlife-friendly standards in return for a premium price on their crops, through an enterprise called Ibis Rice.

The future management of the park, through Herencia Colombia is a fantastic current example of what the future of forest protection will look like: it combines protected areas with the surrounding landscape in a grand vision that secures its long-term financing. It’s a perfect example of public-private cooperation, government commitment being fulfilled, and the ‘implementation gap’ bridged. It represents the very essence of the Trillion Trees vision, implemented for the world to see.

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