China gets into the act too.
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Given this challenge, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, the Panama Canal Authority and the HSBC Climate Partnership are working on a 20-year study to understand what they call “water-storage services” provided by the surrounding forests. One hundred forty thousand tree seedlings have been planted.
In 2002 China committed to the mother of all reforestation projects. It embarked on a $2.4 billion, 10-year program to plant 170,000 square miles of trees — an area roughly the size of California. While addressing soil erosion, flooding, pollution and habitat concerns (e.g., the panda), the plan will also create barriers to shield Beijing and other cities from sandstorms. Trees will be planted on 10,500 miles of farmland. This is the largest such project in history, claimed the New Scientist.
China aims to use private financing to start commercial tree farms and 82 million acres of tree plantations.
If the Chinese actually achieve these goals, it will be a stunning accomplishment. Now, if they would just allow freedom of speech and jettison the mandatory one-child policy, things would be just great.
BACK IN THE UNITED STATES, there are exciting developments in reforestation and forest protection generally. Last year Washington, D.C., which actually has pretty good tree cover at 35 percent of the city, committed to expanding its tree canopy to 40 percent by 2035. The District will need to add more than 2,000 acres of canopy or 216,000 trees. A local nonprofit organization, Casey Trees, has planted more than 7,000 trees since 2003, mostly a disease-resistant, American version of Dutch Elm.
In New York 120 volunteers planted 20,000 trees just last year. The ultimate goal is to plant one million trees over the next decade.
Happily, the phenomenon of sudden aspen decline, SAD, appears to have stabilized with many stands of trees “holding their ground against any new onset,” as reported by Kirk Johnson of the New York Times. Individual trees are still dying but this current reprieve is very welcome news.
Aspen are one of the things that make the Rocky Mountains special. Unfortunately, severe drought and heat set off a decline early in the last decade. Given climate variability in the West, keep your fingers crossed on this one.
And let’s hear it for the recovery of the venerable American chestnut tree, which appears to be ready for a big come-back. More than a century ago 4 billion of these wonderful trees, which had sweeping and majestic canopies, were destroyed by a foreign blight.
“By interbreeding the American with its Chinese cousin, tree lovers have created an American chestnut with some resistance to Asian blight and have developed a virus that can be injected into affected trees to combat the fungus,” reports the Washington Post’s Julie Eilperin. Twenty-five thousand of these new chestnuts have been planted under guidance of trained scientists and devotees. It will take 75 to 100 years to know whether or not the tree can be established in its natural range, but we are playing for the long haul here.
The chestnut is hardy, thriving on rocky and acidic soil. It will be a great means of reclaiming land decimated by strip mining throughout Appalachia, again, part of its original range.
Trees and forests are incredible multi-purpose tools which, among other things, generate two-thirds of America’s clean water supply as reported by the National Research Council of the National Academies in a 2008 study entitled, Hydrologic Effects of a Changing Forest Landscape.
In light of the foregoing, and the continued need for forest and paper products, is it any wonder that, over the past ten years, private timberland investments returned 7.1 percent annualized, compared with a 0.4 percent annualized loss for the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, according to Elizabeth Ody in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (“Money Does Grow on Trees After All,” December 2010)?
Lest I conclude this year’s Earth Day column on too mercenary a note, let me recall the words of my former boss, then Governor John Ashcroft of Missouri, for whom I worked as his director of natural resources 20 years ago: “Planting a tree is an unconditional gift to future generations.”
If Earth Day is not your cut of wood, consider celebrating Arbor Day on April 29. Plant a tree. After all, it is better to give than to receive.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online