What is the status of the EU project to plant 3 billion

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In May 2020, the European Commission published its biodiversity strategy, which included the goal of planting three billion new trees by 2030 to help combat climate change and create jobs, according to Euractiv.

“It simply came to our notice then. Let’s plant three billion trees. The right trees, in the right place, for the right reason. It is part of our efforts to fight climate change and stop biodiversity loss, ”said Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for the Environment.

According to the EU executive, planting an additional three billion trees in the EU by 2030 will increase the area of ​​forests and trees, increase the resilience of forests and increase their role in reversing biodiversity loss, while mitigating climate change and helping to adapt to global warming. global.

These trees should be planted in forests, agricultural areas, urban and peri-urban areas and along infrastructure corridors, provided they are the right species and planted in full compliance with environmental principles, according to the EU.

“Planting trees is particularly beneficial in cities, while in rural areas it can work well with agroforestry, landscape features and increased carbon sequestration,” the EU Biodiversity Strategy said.

Two years after the announcement, the EU is far from that goal. A tracker launched in December 2021 to monitor progress shows that since June 15, the EU has planted 2,946,015 trees – not even 1% of the three billion target.

This means that there are 2,997,053,985 left to plant in the next seven and a half years.

According to the Commission, it is estimated that almost 300 million trees grew each year between 2010 and 2015. The aim is to double this to 600 million a year, which would be equivalent to three billion more trees by the end of the year. in 2030, compared to the usual scenario.

“Three billion is a big number, but we are about to turn it into reality,” Sinkevičius said.

However, annual figures so far have fallen well below the EU target. For example, in April 2022, only 112,342 trees were planted.

There is also a huge disparity when it comes to the countries that commit to the program.

Some, such as the Czech Republic, France and Italy, are working hard, while others have not contributed to the goal.

It is also essential that the right tree species be planted in the right area. Plantations of invasive or single species can have a serious impact on biodiversity in the area.

Meanwhile, trees planted with peat could act differently from the proposed target and could cause carbon release. Trees should not be planted in areas of high natural value, such as swamps, wetlands and meadows, the EU executive said.

“Other trees must be planted and cultivated in full compliance with ecological principles. This means that the right tree needs to be planted in the right place and for the right purpose. This requires long-term planning and monitoring, “he said.

Trees should not only be planted in forests, but also in rural and urban areas, according to the EU executive. Trees in cities have the advantage of providing access to nature and providing shade.

In the meantime, trees in rural areas can be associated with agroforestry. So far, the trees have been planted much more in agricultural and forestry areas than in other areas.