Fungus threatens trees planted by wealthy countries

Written by By M.A. Dall’Oglio, CNN

Thanks to efforts such as the “Greening of the Poor” campaign, the world’s poor have as much access to trees as the richest seven percent of humanity, according to data released by the United Nations, USAID and the Global Forestry Partnership .

Yet the numbers tell a conflicting story.

In a briefing note released Thursday, the UN and the UK supported report by the Global Forestry Partnership outlined that the average two billion trees have been planted in the past three decades as part of the Tree for the Planet initiative. This represents 8.5 million — out of a worldwide overall global population of seven billion.

However, the average biomass of a tree grows at one percent per year, so 10 to 15 percent of these trees have not been planted at all.

The report reveals that African countries have done the most to spread trees in general. But the total number of trees planted on those continents — on average — is much smaller than the amount of forests generated by the world’s income, the report indicates.

In Africa, 755 million trees have been planted, while 568 million have been used to satisfy the demand of neighboring countries.

“There is a urgent need to help countries reach their tree targets,” a statement released by the UK Ministry of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs reads. “This research shows that we are not on track to meet the UN goal of planting 500 million trees by 2020, with the exception of southern and western Africa.”

According to the paper, it takes 50,000 hectares of land to grow one tree. While 75 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, at least 60 percent of the world’s forests lie in rural areas, the paper said.

Yet a large swath of the world is officially cut off from trees. Remote areas of South America and Europe (the latter) are among the least at risk. Furthermore, China, India and other developing countries are largely not involved in the initiative, which focuses on natural forest and wildlife-serving practices, making them among the least affected.

The paper continued that “despite access to better information about forest resources, challenges to implementation persist, and some countries have not even begun their tree tree campaigns,” leaving many people vulnerable to environmental threats such as climate change.

“This data is a wake up call for global policymakers,” the statement from the UN and UK reads. “We must continue our work to create a low carbon economy that puts the needs of the people at the center of any environmental policymaking and action.”

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