Forests are one of the most important natural resources that have been gifted to mankind for its sustained existence on earth. Conservation of forests is, therefore, a necessity that requires to be addressed as a priority.
Recently, Ecuador broke the world record for restoration when thousands of people planted 647,250 trees of more than 200 species.
“I have just been informed that we have broken the Guinness record for reforestation,” said President Rafael Correa.
Explaining about the adopted measures taken for restoration, Correa said, “The seedlings were planted all over Ecuador, which boasts varied geography from its Pacific coast, high Andean peaks and low Amazon basin areas.”
Environment Minister Lorena Tapia tweeted that 44,883 people planted the trees on more than 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres) of land.
Hundreds of varieties of plants and trees were planted as part of the mass reforestation effort, said Carlos Martinez, Guinness Records adjudicator.
“There is no record in history of similar events involving over 150 species,” he told Agence France-Presse.
Volunteers who planted trees in more than 150 spots across Ecuador said that while they were proud of the record, they wouldn’t mind seeing it broken again.
Last September, Philippines broke the record for the most trees planted in an hour with 3.2 million seedlings sown as a part of a national forestation program.
Ecuador holds several other world records, including the most plastic bottles recycled in one week and the most people buried in sand simultaneously, as per Guinness.
The world’s forests continue to be cut down at “alarming rates”, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its State of the World’s Forests 2020 report.
The 188-page report released on Friday, which caps a decade of studies on biodiversity under the oversight of the UN, examines the contributions of forests and of the populations that use and manage them, with an eye toward forest conservation, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to the report, forests occupy less than a third of the world’s land, but they account for 80 per cent of all amphibian species, 75 of bird species, 68 per cent of mammal species, and around 60 per cent of all vascular plant species. But that biodiversity is at risk, the report said.
“Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity,” the FAO report said.
It added that over the last 30 years at least 420 million hectares of forests have been lost to land-use changes, mostly to agricultural development, or in some cases for the production of wood.
The lost forest land is roughly the equivalent to the size of the north African country of Libya, FAO said.
The report said the rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years, from around 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 10 million hectares per year over the last five years. FAO headed the production of the report in collaboration with the UN Environment Program. (IANS)
Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads.
In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution.
“We are all waking up to the fact that air pollution and its impact on human health and the health of our planet is the defining issue of our time,” said study researcher Prashant Kumar, Professor at the University of Surrey in the UK. “Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth,” Kumar added.
The review found that there is ample evidence of green infrastructure’s ability to divert and dilute pollutant plumes or reduce outdoor concentrations of pollutants by direct capture, where some pollutants are deposited on plant surfaces.
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As part of their critical review, the researchers identified a gap in information to help people – including urban planners, landscape architects and garden designers – make informed decisions on which species of vegetation to use and, crucially, what factors to consider when designing a green barrier. To address this knowledge gap, they identified 12 influential traits for 61 tree species that make them potentially effective barriers against pollution.
Beneficial plant properties include small leaf size, high foliage density, long in-leaf periods (e.g. evergreen or semi-evergreen), and micro-characteristics such as leaf hairiness. Generally detrimental aspects of plants for air quality include wind pollination and biogenic volatile organic compound emissions.
In the study, the team emphasised that the effectiveness of a plant is determined by its environmental context – whether, for example, it will be used in a deep (typical of a city commercial centre) or shallow (typical of a residential road) street canyon or in an open road environment.
To help concerned citizens with complex decisions, such as which tree is best for a road outside a school in a medium-sized street canyon, the research team has also developed a plant selection framework. “The use of green infrastructure as physical barriers between ourselves and pollutants originating from our roads is one promising way we can protect ourselves from the devastating impact of air pollution,” Kumar said.
“We hope that our detailed guide to vegetation species selection and our contextual advice on how to plant and use green infrastructure is helpful to everyone looking to explore this option for combatting pollution,” he added. (IANS)
Plants and trees may be better and cheaper options than technology to mitigate air pollution, says a new study from an Indian-origin researcher.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that adding plants and trees to the landscapes near factories and other pollution sources could reduce air pollution by an average of 27 per cent.
Researchers found that in 75 per cent of the countries analysed, it was cheaper to use plants to mitigate air pollution than it was to add technological interventions – things like smokestack scrubbers – to the sources of pollution.
“The fact is that traditionally, especially as engineers, we don’t think about nature; we just focus on putting technology into everything,” said Indian-origin researcher and study lead author Bhavik Bakshi from the Ohio State University.
“And so, one key finding is that we need to start looking at nature and learning from it and respecting it. There are win-win opportunities if we do – opportunities that are potentially cheaper and better environmentally,” he added.
To start understanding the effect that trees and other plants could have on air pollution, the researchers collected public data on air pollution and vegetation on a county-by-county basis across the lower 48 states.
Then, they calculated what adding additional trees and plants might cost. Their calculations included the capacity of current vegetation – including trees, grasslands and shrublands – to mitigate air pollution.
They also considered the effect that restorative planting – bringing the vegetation cover of a given county to its county-average levels – might have on air pollution levels.
They estimated the impact of plants on the most common air pollutants – sulfur dioxide, particulate matter that contributes to smog, and nitrogen dioxide.
They found that adding trees or other plants could lower air pollution levels in both urban and rural areas, though the success rates varied depending on, among other factors, how much land was available to grow new plants and the current air quality.
The findings indicate that nature should be a part of the planning process to deal with air pollution, and show that engineers and builders should find ways to incorporate both technological and ecological systems. (IANS)