It’s no secret that China has an emissions problem, which is why the country recently declared new plans to combat climate change. However, it’s tree planting efforts were recently re-evaluated and it seems they are much more beneficial than previously estimated.
The research conducted found that the planted trees were absorbing 31% more carbon than initially thought. As such, the afforestation efforts have created a very powerful carbon sink to help the country capture emissions.
And with more trees being planted regularly, the 2060 goal is more realistic.
66 Billion Trees Later, A Massive Carbon Sink
In 1978, China began a program to help restore its forests and stop the expanding deserts. And in the four decades since, the Chinese government has planted 66 billion trees, which have resulted in a massive carbon sink that country desperately needs.
However, instead of just trying to restore lost forests, the government planted trees in areas they never existed in.
As a result, it wasn’t able to just prevent deserts from expanding, but it actually started making them recede. In fact, in 2017, it came to light that deserts were receding at a rate of 2,400 square kilometers a year.
However, this hasn’t just benefited the environment, it has also helped the Chinese timber and paper industry in recent years.
Water Concerns Arise
While this is extremely positive news, there is one issue with China’s aggressive tree planting method.
They are planting non-native trees that require more water than the region can provide.
Remember that China is trying to prevent the desert from expanding, which it was successful in doing. However, it means those trees don’t belong in that very hot environment. Thus, it has lead to many water concerns.
While many are praising the success of the project as a whole, some scientists have a different idea. Instead of trees, it is better to plant smaller plants and shrubbery in these environments.
Yet, it’s unlikely for the government to change course.