China is Fighting Back: 60,000 Soldiers Will Plant Trees

Determined to fight against air pollution, China is deploying 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in an area the size of Ireland. The idea is to combat air pollution by increasing the country’s forest coverage. Air pollution was reportedly responsible for one-third of all deaths in China in 2016.

The soldiers are part of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and have been pulled from their posts on the northern border. Along with some of the country’s armed police force, they will mostly be sent to Hebei Province. 

The area, which surrounds Beijing, is notorious for producing the fumes and smog that blanket both the city of Beijing and also large parts of northern China.

The new forests will cover 84,000 square kilometers (32,400 square miles) by the end of this year. The goal is to raise the country’s total forest coverage from 21 percent to 23 percent by 2020.

By 2035, that number could be as high as 26 percent, according to Zhang Jianlong, head of China’s State Forestry Administration.

“Companies, organizations and talent that specialize in greening work are all welcome to join in the country’s massive greening campaign,” he said.

Although this is not a new initiative, as PLA troops have been assigned to such tasks before, it may well be the largest.

Beech-trees-in-forest

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

As a lover of trees, I am thrilled at this decision to increase China’s total forested area. Trees are awesome: they relax us, they lower our heart rate and reduce stress, and they provide beauty in our everyday lives.

They are also an important defense against air pollution and climate change. That’s because they absorb carbon dioxide and other potentially harmful gases, while at the same time releasing oxygen. Just one day’s supply of oxygen from a large trees provides enough oxygen for four people.

In fact, trees are so important that numerous countries around the world are seeing their benefits and developing new afforestation plans. 

Writing in The Guardian, John Vidal explains,

“China plans to plant forests the size of Ireland. Latin American countries have pledged to restore 20m hectares of degraded forest and African countries more than 100m hectares. [One hectare is equivalent to about two and a half acres.] India is to plant 13m hectares, and on a single day last year 1.5 million people planted 66m trees in (India’s) Madhya Pradesh alone.”

This is wonderful news: Vidal calls it “A eureka moment for the planet,” and reports that other countries around the world are following a forestation plan, including England, Ireland, Norway and France. He reminds us that in 2015, as part of their response to the climate crisis, over 120 countries promised to restore large forest areas.

It’s a crucial response to the deforestation that has been sweeping our planet. Forests still cover 30 percent of the earth, but deforestation has rapidly changed that. According to the National Geographic, the world’s rain forests could completely disappear within 100 years at the current rate of destruction. 

That is horrible news not just because those trees will no longer be there to absorb dangerous gases, but also because the world’s forests are home to over 80 percent of the animals and plants that live on land, all of whom could lose their habitats.

Let’s hope that this worldwide movement to plant trees again means that a backlash against deforestation is happening and governments are coming to understand  the benefits of forests.

 

Photo Credit: By Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Flickr: 110712-N-TT977-077) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

96 comments

David C
David C3 months ago

how about if the US did this in place of a military parade?????

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Cat N
Cat N3 months ago

Yay China! Seriously, this is wonderful news. It's good to hear that other countries are developing the same policies.

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Roxana Saez
Roxana Saez3 months ago

TYFS

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KimJ M
KimJ M3 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M3 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M3 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M3 months ago

They want to stop breeding

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John B
John B3 months ago

Thanks Judy for sharing the news.

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Sarah Grayce P
Sarah Grayce P3 months ago

This is very good news.

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Pat P
Pat P3 months ago

Sounds good! But, while China is attempting to increase their oxygen, elsewhere, deforestation is reducing it and the lives of our precious wildlife, potential scientific rainforest discoveries and the beauty of our earth. In many countries forests are replaced by rapid development and junk crops like palm oil. Numbers of iconic wildlife are being decimated-- like the Koalas of Australia and the Orangutans of Borneo that are being burned to death in intentional fires or slaughtered by lumbermen.

China must plant appropriate trees providing knowledgeable continuous care. It will take years to develop major forests. In the meantime, the increased middle class wealth means more cars, more unnecessary but desired goods. Will their green efforts compensate for the potential damage?

In the U.S., instead of going green, Trump is attempting to increase the already high pollution levels of this country with more filthy fossil fuel projects, everywhere possible. It is too bad that he can't use the hundreds of billions of budgeted defense dollars to have our soldiers plant trees, instead of having corporations develop more weapons for him to supply to war mongers.

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