I haven’t blogged for a while, mostly because I – like everyone else – was caught up by the US election. The re-election of tRump would have been, in my opinion, disastrous for the health of the entire planet. Although the election took place on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, the votes weren’t sufficiently counted until Saturday, November 7, to project the results with confidence. We now have President-Elect Biden, and although tRump may have removed the US from the Paris Climate Accord, President-Elect Biden has promised to reverse that decision shortly after he’s inaugurated. The US (and hopefully the rest of the world) will be able to start going in the right direction.
After the results were called I watched David Attenborough’s 2020 documentary, A Life on Our Planet, in which he recounts his own experience with nature in his 93 years. Basically, in his youth he was marveling at Earth’s wondrous diversity; but later, he becomes aware of the horrors our species has been inflicting on our world. We have done terrible damage, but repair is possible, and one of the techniques to improve the planet’s health is through rewilding – and, in this blog, we’ll look at several examples of reforestation.
Costa Rica is a great example, mentioned in the documentary above. When Attenborough first went there, many decades ago, 75% of the country was covered by trees. Through about 1990, that shrank to 25%. However, in the past 30 years, Costa Rica has reversed that – by paying landowners to reforest – and now the country is back up to 50% forest! Here’s a link to an article. “After decades of deforestation, Costa Rica has reforested to the point that half of the country’s land surface is covered with trees again. That forest cover is able to absorb a huge amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, combating climate change for us all.”
The Great Green Wall is another reforestation project, this time in Africa. This is an attempt to plant trees across Africa to fight against creeping desertification. The bird above, the violet turacao, can be found in Senegal (although the picture above is from a Florida zoo). From Time: “The seedlings in Senegal’s reforesting projects are usually locally sourced and selected for their drought resistance and hardiness. Thorny desert acacias carry their own protection from grazing animals, and in the dry season they shed their leaves to conserve moisture. Once baobabs take root, they are long-lived even under drought conditions. Their bark can be used to make rope, their leaves are edible, and their foot-long fruit can either be juiced or ground up and roasted to make a coffee-like drink.”
Not all reforestation goes through governments. In India, one man has spent 40 years planting trees, and has transformed a barren island in the Brahmaputra River into an oasis for elephants, tigers, and many different birds. From NPR: “First with bamboo trees, then with cotton trees. I kept planting — all different kinds of trees,” Payeng says.
“It’s not as if I did it alone,” says the self-styled naturalist. “You plant one or two trees, and they have to seed. And once they seed,” he adds reverentially, “the wind knows how to plant them, the birds here know how to sow them, cows know, elephants know, even the Brahmaputra river knows. The entire ecosystem knows.”
Jadav sought no permission to plant a forest. He just grew it, carrying on what he says is his Mishing tribe’s tradition of honoring nature.
The efforts above – and others taking place in other parts of the world, such as Pakistan and Singapore – are not enough, of course. Trees are still being felled, such as in Brazil, which is where azure jays live. But the approaches above show us that there are ways to reforest many parts of the planet. When we do that nature shows her gratitude and rebounds. Trees are good for life on Earth, including for us humans.
Good roosting branches needed to be treasured, and now this branch was gone forever. Sol and Ava needed to have more respect for trees. Hunters of the Feather