Ireland is about to get a whole lot greener. The 84,431-square-kilometer country is determined to fight climate change by planting 440 million trees by 2040; 70 percent will be conifers and the remainder broad-leaf. The initiative is part of Ireland’s larger goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050.
Ireland has the lowest forest cover of all European countries — about 11 percent compared to an average of more than 30 percent. Some say planting additional trees could be the answer, while others aren’t completely sold.
In June, the Irish government said it was going to start planting more trees in its fight against climate change and to reduce carbon emissions, but it never said how many trees it would plant. Now, the government has come up with a specific number.
“The target for new forestation is approximately 22 million trees per year,” a spokesperson for the Department of Communications Climate Action and Environment said. “Over the next 20 years, the target is to plant 440 million.”
In order to make the tree planting initiative work, Ireland needs farmers to plant more trees on their properties. The problem is that this is not a popular idea among farmers. The government hopes to try to change these opinions by offering local meetings to garner support for reforestation.
Other people in Ireland are also against planting more trees. For instance, Pádraic Fogarty of the Irish Wildlife Trust is not on board. “People are not good at planting trees, and trees do not like being planted. They prefer to plant themselves,” Fogarty told The Irish Independent. Rather than handing out around 94 million euros ($103 million) in forestry grants, the government should pay farmers to plant nothing and let their properties regrow on their own, Fogarty suggested.
An earlier study explained that planting more than 500 billion trees was the “most effective” solution to combating climate change. Those opposed to the tree planting initiative say reforestation will not reduce greenhouse gases enough, and other ideas should be implemented.
Planting trees is not a foreign concept when trying to address the climate crisis, as other countries have grabbed their shovels and dug in. For example, Ethiopia and Scotland have been successful in their efforts to plant more trees for reforestation and fight global warming.
Image via KML