Washington: A new study has estimated that at least 3 trillion trees are currently present on earth. This is much more than the previously estimated figure of 400 billion trees.
The study was carried out by Yale forestry researcher Thomas Crowther whose team used 429,775 ground-based measurements, satellite images and measurements and computer models to arrive at a global figure of 3.04 trillion trees, according to a report in Times of India.
The study was conceptualized when, Crowther was approached by United Nations-affiliated youth group that had set a goal of planting 1 billion trees to fight man-made climate change.
The study estimated that before the dawn of human civilization, there were at least 5.6 trillion trees on earth. But, today more than half of them have been wiped out. The study revealed that at least 15 billion trees are cut every year, but only 5 billion new trees are planted. Therefore, there is a net loss of 10 billion trees every year and at this rate, the earth will be completely devoid of trees within next 300 years.
The youth group-Plant for the Planet has now revised its goal and has set its new target to growing 18 billion trees.
A web-based application that monitors the impact of successful forest-rights claims can help rural communities manage resources better and improve their livelihoods, according to analysts.
The app was developed by the Indian School of Business (ISB) to track community rights in India, where the 2006 Forest Rights Act aimed to improve the lives of rural people by recognizing their entitlement to inhabit and live off forests.
With a smartphone or tablet, the app can be used to track the status of a community rights claim.
After the claim is approved, community members can use it to collect data on tree cover, burned areas and other changes in the forest and analyze it, said Arvind Khare at Washington D.C.-based advocacy Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).
“Even in areas that have made great progress in awarding rights, it is very hard to track the socio-ecological impact of the rights on the community,” said Khare, a senior director at RRI, which is testing the app in India.
“Recording the data and analyzing it can tell you which resources need better management, so that these are not used haphazardly, but in a manner that benefits them most,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
For example, community members can record data on forest products they use such as leaves, flowers, wood and sap, making it easier to ensure that they are not over-exploited, he said.
While indigenous and local communities own more than half the world’s land under customary rights, they have secure legal rights to only 10 percent, according to RRI.
Governments maintain legal and administrative authority over more than two-thirds of global forest area, giving limited access for local communities.
In India, under the 2006 law, at least 150 million people could have their rights recognized to about 40 million hectares (154,400 sq miles) of forest land.
But rights to only 3 percent of land have been granted, with states largely rejecting community claims, campaigners say.
While the app is being tested in India, Khare said it can also be used in countries including Peru, Mali, Liberia and Indonesia, where RRI supports rural communities in scaling up forest rights claims.
Data can be entered offline on the app, and then uploaded to the server when the device is connected to the internet. Data is stored in the cloud and accessible to anyone, said Ashwini Chhatre, an associate professor at ISB.
“All this while local communities have been fighting simply for the right to live in the forest and use its resources. Now, they can use data to truly benefit from it,” he said. (VOA)