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India plants 220 million trees in a single day

By Sophie Lewis, August 9, 2019 / 6:30 PM / CBS News

In just one day, more than a million people in India planted 220 million trees. It’s all thanks to a government campaign to combat climate change and improve the environment, according to The Associated Press.

The trees were planted in the country’s most populous state, AP reports. The saplings were all planted by 5 p.m. Friday in northern Uttar Pradesh, which has a population of more than 200 million people.

Forest official Bivhas Ranjan said students, law makers, officials and other residents planted dozens of species of saplings along roads, railroad tracks and in forests. The goals are to increase forest cover and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted a plea to young people to “save Mother Earth” and improve the environment for future generations. “We set the target of 220 million because Uttar Pradesh is home to 220 million people,” he said.

“The whole process is online,” state government spokesman Awanish Awasthi said. “The pits are geo-tagged and the saplings carry a QR code. So we can record how many saplings are planted and where.”

India has pledged to have trees cover at least one-third of its land area, but its efforts are complicated by its population and rapid industrialization.

According to a recent study, scientists say planting a trillion trees globally could be the single most effective way to fight climate change. Since trees absorb carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming, a worldwide planting initiative could remove a substantial portion of heat-trapping emissions from the atmosphere.

But rather than adding trees, in many parts of the world, they’re being cut down on a massive scale. Deforestation is a major concern in the Amazon, where acres of rainforests are being cut down every day to make room for agriculture.

So while reforestation may be the best solution, halting deforestation and reducing animal agriculture would also provide immediate benefits.


China and India help make planet leafier

By Roger Harrabin BBC environment analyst

China and India, two of the world’s biggest polluters, are making it leafier – for now, a report says.

The greening effect stems mainly from ambitious tree-planting in China and intensive farming in both countries. There are now more than 2 million sq miles of extra leaf area per year, compared with the early 2000s – a 5% increase. Extra foliage helps slows climate change, but researchers warn this will be offset by rising temperatures.

What exactly is happening?

Satellite data from the US space agency NASA shows that over the last two decades there has been an increase in leaf area on plants and trees equivalent to the area covered by all the Amazon rainforests. The greening was first detected in the mid-1990s.

Scientists first assumed plants were being fertilised by the extra CO2 in the atmosphere and boosted by a warmer, wetter climate. But they didn’t know whether changes in farming and forestry were contributing to the changes. Thanks to a NASA instrument called Modis, which is orbiting the Earth on two satellites, they can now see that both are clearly playing a direct part, too.

Why are China and India in the lead?

China’s contribution to the global greening trend comes in large part (42%) from programmes to conserve and expand forests. The policies were developed to reduce the effects of soil erosion, air pollution and climate change. Another 32% of the greening there – and 82% of the greening in India – comes from intensive cultivation of food crops thanks to fertilisers and irrigation.

Production of grains, vegetables, fruits and other crops has increased by 35% to 40% since 2000, so both nations can feed their large populations.

The future of the greening trend may change depending on numerous factors. For example, India may run short of groundwater irrigation.

On the global picture, scientists recently warned that CO2 in the atmosphere could reach record levels this year as a result of heating in the tropical Pacific which is likely to reduce CO2 uptake in plants.

Does this affect predictions of climate change?

Rama Nemani, from NASA’s Ames Research Center, a co-author of the work said: “Now that we know direct human influence is a key driver of the greening Earth, we need to factor this into our climate models.

“This will help scientists make better predictions about the behaviour of different Earth systems, which will help countries make better decisions about how and when to take action.” The scientist who first spotted the warming trend, Prof Ranga Myneni from Boston University, reiterated a previous warning to BBC News that the extra tree growth would not compensate for global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, ocean acidification, the loss of Arctic sea ice, and the prediction of more severe tropical storms.

But it’s acknowledged that although carbon uptake from plants was factored in to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models, it remains one of the main sources of uncertainty in future climate forecasts.

The research comes as a UK-based think tank IPPR warned that governments should not focus narrowly on any single environmental problem, but recognise the slew of environmental issues facing the world, including the loss of soil which is already reducing fertility in many areas.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47210849


Ambala farmers skip burning, sow wheat on paddy residue

Nitish Sharma, Tribune News Service, Ambala, December 1

The burning of crop residue has been a major issue in the region and different measures, including incentive, fine and legal action, are being taken by the government to stop farmers from burning stubble. But scientists of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Tepla, have managed to persuade farmers to sow wheat on nearly 500 hectares in Tepla, Racheri, Rattanheri, Sapeda and Samlehri villages in Ambala without removing and burning the paddy residue.

The first trial was done last year on 200 acres and after getting success, more farmers have started showing interest in Ambala. The scientists had made some changes in the Happy Seeder (new-generation planters) to sow wheat in the residue.The scientists, during their study, found that the nutrients in the residue may reduce fertiliser requirement, weed density was less, crop lodging did not occur in the crop residue management plots during the last irrigation and farmers harvested qualitative grain yield.

Guru Prem Grover, Subject Matter Specialist (Soil and Water Management), said, “Residue burning is a fast and cheap option for farmers to clear their fields. The challenge is to change the mindset of farmers as they don’t want to change their conventional methods of farming.

“We have been organising visits of farmers at the demonstration plots and to the plots of farmers who have sown wheat without removing the residue. They are being told that the cost of cultivation can be reduced by adopting newer methods and that it can also save water by 20-25 per cent,” he added.

The scientists claim the burning of residue also results in the loss of plant nutrients and organic carbon of the soil, deteriorating the soil health.

About 70 per cent quantity of fertiliser remains in the residue. Mixing the residue back into the soil decreases the requirement of fertiliser for the next crop.


FAO launches 2020 as the UN’s International Year of Plant Health

2 December 2019, Rome

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today launched the United Nations’ International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) for 2020, which aims to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.

Plants make up 80 percent of the food we eat, and produce 98 percent of the oxygen we breathe. Yet, they are under constant and increasing threat from pests and diseases. Every year, up to 40 percent of global food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases. This leads to annual agricultural trade losses of over $220 billion, leaves millions of people facing hunger, and severely damages agriculture – the primary income source for poor rural communities. This is why policies and actions to promote plant health are fundamental for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Plants provide the core basis for life on Earth and they are the single most important pillar of human nutrition. But healthy plants are not something that we can take for granted,” said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu who launched the Year on the sidelines of the UN agency’s Council meeting.

Climate change and human activities are altering ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and creating conditions where pests can thrive. At the same time, international travel and trade has tripled in volume in the last decade and can quickly spread pests and diseases around the world causing great damage to native plants and the environment.

“As with human or animal health, prevention in plant health is better than cure,” stressed the FAO chief.

Protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than dealing with full-blown plant health emergencies. Plant pests and diseases are often impossible to eradicate once they have established themselves and managing them is time consuming and expensive.

Qu Dongyu also urged for prompt action, pointing out that much still needs to be done to ensure plant health.

“On this International Year and throughout this Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, let us dedicate the necessary resources and increase our commitment to plant health. Let us act for people and planet,” said António Guterres, UN Secretary-General in a message read out at the event.

The following ministers also spoke at the event: Edward Centeno Gadea, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Nicaragua; Andrew Doyle, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland; and Tamara Finkelstein, Permanent Secretary of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK.

In his opening remarks, the FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu commended the Government of Finland for taking the lead in proposing a year dedicated to plant health and coordinating efforts to have the year declared.

Source: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1253551/icode/