China is attacked on its own soil. And just as any other country with a large armed force would do, the state deploys troops. With no delay, the government alarmed over 60,000 members of the People’s Liberation Army.
The invading force is insidious. However, the use of traditional military tactics cannot deal with it. They need a raw workforce. None of the standard maneuvers of warfare apply. This is the reason why China is arming its soldiers with two of the most effective weapons possible. Shovels and saplings.
War against air pollution
With planting a massive number of trees, China looks further to suppress air pollution. Smog is the enemy responsible for one-third of all deaths in China in 2016. The government of China is quite serious about battling the air pollution. Officials pulled a large regiment of soldiers, together with a number of the police force from their posts. They are now reassigned to Hebei province on the tree-planting duty. By the end of 2018, they should plant an air pollution-absorbing swath of forested land, of 32,400 square miles. Roughly the size of Ireland.
Also, China does not have any plans to relent. By 2020, the government wants to increase the forest coverage to about 23% of the Chinese landmass. Currently, forests cover roughly 21% of the country, which is about 208 million hectares.
Still, this will not completely eradicate air pollution in the cities of China. Not even close. However, a combination with some other efforts of improving air quality, such as banning vehicles with combustion engines, replacing coal with natural gas, as well as leading the world in the production of solar energy, thousands of new square miles of air pollution-mitigating forests will make a small dent. And, in such polluted and a populous country as China, every dent, no matter how small, is an improvement.
Increasing the forest coverage
By 2035, officials also hope that there will be a 5% increase in the forest coverage in China. This means that not too far down the line, over a quarter of all China is going to be forested. Additionally to their size, the most critical aspects of the current tree-planting campaign of the military is the strategic location in Hebei province. Hebei is the province near the capital of China, Beijing. It is densely populated and highly polluted. This is particularly visible in winter when smog leaves soar, and it encircles most of the capital.
This region is probably the major culprit for producing the notorious smog which is known to wrap the second most populous city in China, with a stifling, grey embrace.
The officials of Hebei pledged to boost the total forest coverage within the province to about 35% by the end of 2020. To achieve this plan, they deployed a majority of shovel-wielding troops to this mountainous region.
Civilians are helping too
Another thing worth noting is that to achieve its goals, the government is not just deploying troops, but civilians are also more than welcome to join the effort. Companies, as well as organizations, and talent which specialize in greening work, are all welcome to join the massive greening campaign of the country.
Furthermore, to this particular campaign, constructions also commenced this past summer on a so-called “forest city” which is going to generate much-needed new housing for roughly 30,000 new residents while also sucking pollution from the air.
Planting trees all over the world
Some countries of Latin America also vowed to restore 20 million hectares or 49.4 million acres of forest while some countries of Africa have the purpose of planting more than 100 million hectares or 274 million acres. Two notable tree-planting tears are India and England too. Last year, the Indian residents planted a record-breaking 66 million new trees in under 12 hours all within a single state. On the other hand, England is planning to plant 50 million new trees as part of a proposed 120-mile-long ribbon of forested land. It would stretch from coast to coast in the northern part of the country alongside the heavily trafficked M62 motorway.
For 200 years, forested countries barely knew what to do with their trees. They have been treated as expendable and a waste of space. However, in a great cultural shift, they change from being dark and fearsome places to semi-sacred and untouchable.
However, despite the cultural shift which has yielded truly remarkable tree-planting and reforestation efforts such as the ones which we already mentioned, global tree cover loss is for sure on the rise, reaching a record-breaking 51% in 2016 when 29.7 million hectares of forested land were lost, which is an area roughly the size of New Zealand. While the usual human-caused suspects, such as logging and clearing for agriculture, still play a major role in global tree loss, disease, as well as drought and fires exacerbated by a warming planet are a larger threat than ever before.
Featured Image Credit: China Photos/Getty Images