(Global Healing 2020 - 2050) - Global Greening - the rise of agro-forestry - '..global attempt to plant and restore forest land..'

Posted by ProjectC 
'We are seeing a great global attempt to plant and restore forest land but paradoxically we are still losing tree cover. The rate of global deforestation has slowed by more than half in 25 years but tree loss jumped 50% in 2016, and 2017 is likely to have been worse.

The greatest threat to trees used to be loggers and the expansion of farming. These are still a threat, but human-caused deforestation and degradation make forests more fire-prone, and disease, droughts linked to climate change and harmful beetles are likely to kill trees in greater numbers.


..Increasingly a system known as agro-forestry is proving itself. Here, trees and shrubs are being grown around or among crops, often on degraded forest land. There are around 2bn hectares of this land around the world and restoring it with agro-forestry can not only put food on tables, but create hundreds of thousands of jobs and address climate change.

There have been remarkable successes. Just 30 years ago Niger was an impoverished, drought-prone country. It had been persuaded by development experts from rich countries to intensify its farming by clearing large areas of land and planting huge fields of wheat and maize. It largely failed and the soil blew away. The story, recounted by the author Fred Pearce, goes that, to save time, young men returning from working abroad in the 1980s planted their crops without first clearing the land. To their surprise, their grain yields were much better than in neighbouring fields that had been cleared of all woody plants. When the same thing happened the next year, the villages got the message: trees were good for their crops.

Since then, something like 200m trees in Niger have been planted or encouraged to naturally regenerate on 5m hectares. Food production has increased by 600,000 tonnes a year in the places where the trees have returned.

The government’s part in this success story has been minimal. Agro-forestry spreads spontaneously as farmers and landowners see the benefit of combining crops with trees. The trees provide fodder for livestock, fuel, medicines, fruits and cooking oil and regenerating the land has cost perhaps $20 a hectare. The Niger government helped mainly by changing the law to allow farmers who plant trees to profit more.

Pakistan, too, has shown spectacularly how to combat climate change and reduce instances of flooding and natural disasters. Thousands of nurseries have been set up in the past three years in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, communities have distributed for free more than 150m trees from the nurseries, existing forests have been densely planted and expanded, and large areas of degraded land have been allowed to regenerate naturally. The result will not be seen for many years, but more than one billion trees have been planted, and 350,000 hectares of forest and farmland regenerated for not much more than £100m – roughly what it would cost to build two miles of dual carriageway road in Britain.

Similarly, in Malawi, Mali, Ethiopia and elsewhere, farmers are now planting, protecting and managing many more trees on their farms. The Seno plains of Mali are unrecognisable from 30 years ago and in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, nearly 1m hectares of unused land have been regreened and transformed. Crop yields are increasing, and fewer young people are leaving their villages.

And in India, the Araku project has seen local communities plant millions of fruit trees and coffee bushes. Nearly 15,000 acres have been revitalised.

Agro-forestry is changing farming and addressing climate change in many countries as surely as the “green revolution” swept through the world promising higher yields with chemicals in the 1960s and 70s. It depends for its success on changes in attitudes, shifts in behaviour and improved management practices. It requires communities to work together, local knowledge and governments to reform land laws and help to educate. But it does not need large amounts of money.

Great areas of Indonesian, Congolese and Latin American forests are still being lost to the loggers and the palm oil companies, but we are seeing a heartening response to the linked climate and food crises. It is too early to think that we are ecologically more literate, but there is a real sense that governments are beginning to understand that change best comes from the grassroots and is both needed and possible.'

- John Vidal, '..planting trees again .. the benefits of forests.' February 13, 2018

Context '..initiatives to reduce their impact on the planet..' - Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures

'..People’s Liberation Army .. planting trees.' - '..restoring the ecosystem..'

'..land degradation .. There is little public awareness..'

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