Billion Tree Movement: Climate care or business opportunity?

Wardah Umer Farooq

Countries worldwide are working relentlessly to replenish depleting forests, trying to combat Global Warming and Climate Change. But studies show that planting trees is just a facade to hide the reality behind it all.

Deforestation has become one of the biggest problems of this century. With 15.3 Billion trees being ruthlessly cut down each year, the future of this world is doomed until we work together to do something about it. The negative impact of Global Warming is upon us, with raging Wildfires and excessive flooding due to the melting of the polar caps. Keeping this in mind, many Nations pledged to make efforts to combat deforestation. Almost every county is now focused on reforestation and has started the Billion or Trillion Tree Campaigns. While that sounds like a genius plan, it is filled with loopholes that will end up leaving the world way worse than it is now.

Many countries are planting the same species of trees in their Billion Tree Campaigns to make things easier for themselves. Those species are selected because they are quick to grow. That poses a threat to biodiversity as the forests being depleted are not being replaced by the same species. And that is when we begin to see the impact of Monoculture a lot more closely.

The Reforestation Agenda sidelined due to the detrimental effects of Monoculture:

Cultivating a crop of the same species in a given area is known as Monoculture. Horticulturists agree that these reforestation measures should be in addition to restoring depleting forests rather than being their replacement. If things continue to grow at a pace like this, we will soon exhaust our soil from its fertility and will create a bigger mess for farmers.

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of this campaign, many economists believe that this is nothing more than a façade as it will go on to hijack the economy in the long run. With profitable returns and a low investment plan, Monoculture is the dream of every capitalist.

Countries like China pay subsidies to farmers for these plantations on their land, aiming to plant 100 billion trees by the year 2050. With the number being quite unrealistic, ecologists themselves started to wonder about the efficacy and motive behind this campaign. The farmers are doubtful of said reforestation campaigns and have said they would cut the trees down if they stop getting paid. While there has been an astonishingly significant increase in the number of trees, it poses a threat to the extinction of species that were accustomed to a specific type of forest.

One of the main reasons why countries like Brazil, where the significant chunk (82% approx.) of forest restoration programs revolves around Monoculture, is because they believe it provided livelihood to hundreds of farmers and decreases their unemployment rate. It is not harmful to kill two birds with one stone, but it becomes an eye-opener when it changes the whole motive behind a campaign and fails its purpose. Are we concerned about climate change, or is this another war we are fighting with the capitalists who see nothing but profit in all that they do?

Cashing in on a business opportunity or just working for the Greater Good?

With all that has been discussed up until now, it really is hard to wonder what these campaigns will add to the world. With the promise of making the world a better place to live in, still intact, is it an attack on the future of this planet? From countries like India to Brazil, Niger, and Africa, a constant pattern of planting trees rather than restoring depleting forests is common. In the end, it is saving costs and looking for your gain that triumphs the greater good, which tied us all together since this is a planet we all share.

These actions will end up disrupting the economies of many countries. With a lack of biodiversity due to Monoculture, the rise in demand for fertilizers, phosphates, and nitrogen will increase drastically. Agricultural goods will begin to take a hit as the quality of the crops will start to decline. With the same species of trees producing the same products, the most common being rubber and eucalyptus, there will be a surplus of those in the world market. That delicate balance of imports and exports will begin to tumble across the world, with fluctuation in price and demand.

The Business Opportunity Hidden Behind the Green Veil of the Billion Tree Movement:

Many economists fear that the trees being planted will get cut down once they reach maturity for various purposes such as wood or their byproducts. This is one of the main reasons countries focus on planting forests that will provide them with the raw material that they can later put to use. Instead of restoring forests with no economic gain but an ecological one, the leaders’ vision got blurry when they saw the silver lining.

With Monoculture becoming rampant, the estimated profit to an American farmer per ton of crop generated goes from the US $700 to US $2600. That is a fantastic profit that will increase their GDP and PCI, making their currency stronger in the world. Not just this, but ignoring the ecological cost and impact of such practices will help them save even more money but will end up making Mother Earth pay the price.

The 2 Sides Of The Coin

Global warming and Climate change is now the primary concern of every Nation. If we do not act fast, the damages we cause today will become irreparable. With the countries making pledges to restore forests to help combat Global warming and then manipulate it to make it work in their favor, it makes one wonder. Are we concerned about the Climate and the detrimental effects of Global warming, or is this just another golden business opportunity hidden behind this green veil?

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