China plans to increase its forest cover to try and combat its serious air pollution problem. Over 80,000 km² of trees are soon to be planted. And in order to do so, the country will call on its army.
China may be one of the most polluted countries in the world, if it isn’t the most polluted, but it is also the country making the most efforts to reverse the trend. A few months ago, the authorities announced closures near Beijing of over 40% of coal plants, and their intention to ban diesel run cars between now and 2030. Nowadays, China is developing a new plan: to plant trees -84,000 kilometers squared worth, to be exact -making up an area approximately the size of Ireland.
China currently contains around 208 million hectares of forest, with 33.8 million hectares having been added over the past five years. During 2018, the country hopes to increase its total forest cover from 21% to 23%. And it is Chinese soldiers who will be charged with the task, according to the Asia Times. A regiment of the People’s Liberation Army, as well as the nation’s armed police force, have been requested at the Northern border for the project. If it all goes ahead, the country’s total forest cover could even reach 26% in less than two decades, according to The Independent. The majority of the troops will be sent to the highly polluted province of Hebei, near Beijing. The province is in fact committed to increasing its forest cover to 35% by 2020.
Although it is reassuring to see China taking its pollution problem seriously, it is however quite unlikely that the supplementary trees will be enough to solve the problem. Coupled with other efforts, such as banning diesel cars and using renewable energy, this new announcement could lead to others, and thus make a difference.