Posted on December 22 2022
French President Emmanuel Macron recently pledged to replant 1 billion trees in 10 years. This amounts to 10% of France's forests and comes on the heels of devastating wild fires this summer that ravaged the land, especially the country's southwest region.
France wasn't the only country to experience undue fire damage as a blistering heat wave hit much of Europe this summer. But to Macron, and many global leaders, this isn't a one-off event, but rather signs of what is to come. As a result, Macron is also committing 250 million euros to modernize their firefighting air fleet.
This isn't the only arbor initiative in France either. Earlier this year, Paris announced the city would plant 170,000 new trees by 2026. This is in an effort to cool the city and fight climate change.
In Paris and many cities around the world, the lack of trees can contribute to a much warmer atmosphere. Environmental researchers in Paris found the difference between a shady tree-lined boulevard and a treeless street to be an incredible 28°C.
Again, France isn't alone in turning to trees for cooling comfort. Singapore, Seoul in South Korea and Curitiba in Brazil have all recently announced tree planting initiatives.
The function of trees goes beyond cooling cities. Experts have found that a single tree can store anywhere between one to 22 tonnes of CO2 over the course of its life (for context, a typical passenger vehicle releases about 50 tons of CO2 in 10 years).
In addition to reducing atmospheric CO2, replanting or regenerating forests has a big impact on biodiversity. In the last 20 years, these types of efforts have resulted in almost 59 million hectares of forests regenerating. This has an incredible impact on the climate as well as the plants and animals that call forests home.
While important strides are being made, 386 million hectares of tree cover has still been lost in the past two decades. Initiatives like what France is doing help move us in the right direction, but until we can reduce deforestation and consumption, we'll always be playing a game of catch-up.