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New Zealand Is Planting 1 Billion Trees to Fight Climate Change

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Scientists the world over have warned that not enough is being done to stem greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, one of the primary causes of global warming. The estimated deadline of 2035 is seen as the point of no return if serious action is not taken now.

New Zealand is taking the threat seriously and last year approved a plan to plant 1 billion trees over ten years to reduce the threat of climate change and allocated a budget of $485 million for the first three years of the program.

The program will play a vital part in their efforts to alleviate climate change. New Zealand is considering enacting a zero emissions target by 2050 and planting trees could be incorporated into a cap-and-trade, or emissions trading scheme (ETS), program.

Shane Jones, Forestry Minister, explained: “Getting the ETS right could drive the planting of 340 million trees over the next 10 years – double the amount that would be planted if the ETS was left in its current state. This is one of the most important levers the Government has to incentivise the planting of trees to help reach our Billion Tree programme’s goals.”

Trees do so much more than just reducing greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, they protect land against soil erosion, clean the air, soil and water and provide food and shelter for birds and animals among other things.

Led by Te Uru Räkau (Forestry New Zealand) and funded by the Provincial Growth Fund, the Program will:

  • create employment and workforce development
  • optimize land use
  • mitigate climate change
  • support Māori values and aspirations
  • protect the environment
  • support New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions economy

The Government has allocated $120 million through the One Billion Trees Fund for direct grants to landowners – particularly farmers – to include trees on their farms. The Fund does not support whole farm conversions and has a target of planting two-thirds natives.

Forestry New Zealand is tracking the progress and as at 15 July 2019 an estimated 110 million trees have been planted and over 83 million seedlings are expected to be planted in 2019.

The seeds have been sown as similar initiatives are getting off the ground in other parts of the globe: In 2018, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan set a goal of planting 10 million trees in five year and  India plans to increase their country’s forest cover from 21.34% to 33%.

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