Category Archives: Action

Under attack from climate change, Colombia’s farmers befriend nature

Screenshot_2020-02-22 Under attack from climate change, Colombia's farmers befriend nature
A group of farmers stand near wetlands at the village of El Torno in northern province of Sucre, Colombia. February 11, 2020. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Anastasia Moloney

SUCRE, Colombia, – Forced to leave his small farm a decade ago to escape the worst floods in Colombia’s recent history, Manuel Jimenez knows the destruction torrential rains can inflict only too well.

“The floods left behind a desert, a cemetery of dead trees and poisonous snakes. Everything was destroyed. We lost our home, crops and animals,” said the 43-year-old farmer in Pasifueres, a remote village in the northern province of Sucre.

“We lived through a cruel tragedy,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ten years on, as climate change bites, local farmers are learning to adapt to the impacts of wilder weather by working with nature, from restoring wetlands to planting trees and growing hardy rice varieties, backed by international funding.

The 2010 flooding, triggered by heavy downpours, killed about 300 people and displaced 2.2 million more, causing billions of dollars in damages across 1 million hectares (3,860 square miles).

Hardest-hit were poor farming communities in La Mojana, a region stretching across four northern provinces.

Aid officials warn extreme weather, from torrential rains to drought, will strike again and likely become the new normal.

Some parts of La Mojana are prone to drought, while others are experiencing more intense rains, said Jimena Puyana, who heads work on sustainable development in Colombia for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

But rural communities are fighting back.

With nearly $8 million of U.N. funding since 2013, about 6,000 farming and fishing families in three municipalities of La Mojana have introduced a series of measures to adapt to climate shifts and cope better with extreme weather.

The approach focuses on so-called “nature-based solutions” – which involves improving ecosystems, including forests, wetlands and watersheds – led by village farmer associations, rather than building infrastructure like dikes and levees to contain floods.

One of the main methods is to restore the wetlands and waterways that regulate the local water supply so that they can act as natural drainage systems and buffers against storms.

Prolonged flooding and sediment build-up from illegal gold mining have damaged the wetlands around farming villages, disrupting the water’s natural flow and channels.

“What we are seeking to do is to recover the capacity of the region’s water systems,” said Francisco Charry, head of climate change at Colombia’s environment ministry, which is leading the project in partnership with the UNDP.

Climate change is worsening the conditions faced by vulnerable communities that are prone to flooding, he added.

“(They) need to find a way to adapt to this new reality,” he said.

 

 

 

 

https://news.trust.org/item/20200222082405-lome9/

Healthcare networks launch anti-human trafficking training

shutterstock_1184814127
Stock image. Credit: HTWE/Shutterstock

– A new partnership is aiming to expand training for medical professionals on how to identify and assist victims of human trafficking.

Global Strategic Operatives for the Eradication of Human Trafficking (Global Strategic Operatives) announced a new collaboration and partnership with the Selah Way Foundation, a global network of leading anti-sexual exploitation service providers at a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 30 in Washington, D.C.

Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, one of the co-founders of Global Strategic Operatives, told CNA that the organization decided to go into the medical field because studies have shown that about 88% of victims of human trafficking seek medical treatment at some point while they are being trafficked.

As a member of the Order of Malta, a lay Catholic religious order, O’Hara-Rusckowski said she considers her work in combating human trafficking to be an ideal way to live out the three charisms of the order: caring for the sick, caring for the poor, and defending the faith.

“My whole life right now is living out my faith,” she said. “I can’t think of any better way of taking those charisms and really combining them to live out my faith.”

A pilot program has already begun at six hospital systems located around the country–Baptist Health in Florida, Advocate Aurora Health in Illinois, Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, Harris Health System in Texas, Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, RWJ Barnabas Health in New Jersey, and Northwell Health in New York. These locations were chosen due to higher-than-average rates of human trafficking in their areas.

Staff members at hospitals in these healthcare systems have been trained to spot signs that a person may be a victim of human trafficking.

Representatives from each of the six hospital systems, Homeland Security Investigations (a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security), as well as Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Ross Spano (R-FL), spoke at the press conference in praise of Global Strategic Operatives.

Karen Stanford, the manager of the emergency department at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL, told CNA that the reality of human trafficking was brought home to her after her daughter was approached by a potential trafficker two years ago. Her hospital is part of the Advocate Aurora Health system.

“We live in a gated community, and so it was a bit of a shock,” she said. The experience prompted her to reach out to Paula Besler, vice president of Selah Freedom, looking to bring some sort of educational program to Lutheran General to better identify survivors of human trafficking.

“Then we had this awesome opportunity to partner with CommonSpirit Health, who brought some of their tools forward. And then we were able to fly in survivors to provide us with education and disbanding some of the [misconceptions] that were barriers to identifying,” said Stanford.

CommonSpirit Health is a Catholic health system that received a grant in 2019 to help combat human trafficking. It partners with Global Strategic Operatives.

As a healthcare professional, Stanford told CNA that there is a tendency to be “non-judgemental,” which has resulted in some red flags going unnoticed.

“If somebody comes in [to the emergency room] who we are suspecting is using drugs or prostituting, we’re oftentimes thinking that it is a choice, when the reality is, and what we’ve learned so very much around here, is that’s not necessarily true. It’s because they’re being forced into it,” said Stanford.

Since the training was put in place at her hospital, Stanford said that there have been increased identifications of people who were trafficked, and next month, the entire health system will launch a task force to further expand the program to 25 additional sites.

“I’m really excited to help that move forward,” said Stanford. “Now that there’s this recognition, there’s a great amount of momentum in emergency medicine to start the education and planning.”

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/healthcare-networks-launch-anti-human-trafficking-training-49853

Nuns’ retreat house, built by Muslim benefactor, signifies interfaith bond

House
Scripture text adorns a wall of the monastery for the Carmel of Mary, Queen of the Universe and of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus in Zamboanga City, Philippines. Ibrahim Nuño, a Muslim civil engineer whose family has helped the community, constructed a new building for the Carmelite monastery, for free. (Charity Durano)

Zamboanga City, Philippines — A two-story retreat house built by a Muslim benefactor opened a new stream of income for a community of Carmelite nuns in the southern Philippines and is the most visible sign of long-standing ties between the nuns and their Muslim neighbors.

“Without waiting for me to finish the appeal he said that he would build it completely free,” recalled Sr. Mary Agnes Xavier Guillen of the Discalced Nuns of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, who meets with visitors from outside the community. She was speaking of Ibrahim Nuño, a Muslim civil engineer with roots in Zamboanga City, and whose family has helped the community of Catholic nuns in various ways. When the St. Teresa Hall next to their chapel needed urgent repairs to its roof, Guillen reached out to Nuño, who offered to construct a completely new building that was completed last year

“We have formed friendships with the Muslims through the years. They come to share their concerns, their problems and to ask for prayers,” said Guillen. She noted the common devotion of Christians and Muslims to Our Lady of the Pillar, patroness of Zamboanga City, one of the largest cities in the country. (The devotion to La Virgen del Pilar, originally brought by the Spanish colonizers in the 1700s, remains the most popular Marian devotion in the region, where she is revered as a miracle-worker and a guardian.)

“I remembered the kindness and the offer of our old friend to help if we needed anything,” said Guillen, who reached out to Nuño, president and managing director of a Luzon-based construction company known for malls, office and residential buildings.

“Carmel’s presence in Zamboanga is a witness to the value of prayer in the life of everyone, Christians or Muslims,” said Guillen.

Founded in 1956, there are 18 Carmelite nuns who make up the Carmel of Mary, Queen of the Universe and of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus in Zamboanga City. Their average age is over 60 years old, with the youngest member in her 40s. It is one of 23 monasteries of the Discalced Nuns of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, or OCD, in the country, seven of which are in the Mindanao region, including the one in Zamboanga City, according to the 2019 Catholic Directory of the Philippines.

For 49-year-old math teacher Ruth Guerrero, “the presence of a Carmelite monastery connotes a kind of spiritual assurance, that is, we have prayer warriors.” Guerrero, who teaches at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Zamboanga University in the city and is a member of the formation team for first-year students, added, “whenever I happen to be around the area or pass by where their monastery is, even without entering their compound, I feel a quiet assurance of serenity.”

Guerrero still remembers how her mother offered prayers at the monastery when Guerrero took her board exams, as well as at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar. “The practice has always been there since we believe that is their vocation to devote time for prayer. It’s also like we want to make sure the Lord hears us.”

The Santa Teresa House of Prayer is the second project that Nuño has done for the Carmelite community. According to Guillen, “[Nuño] has expressed to us that building it is an honored privilege for him, one that will bring blessings to him and his family.”

The impetus to initially repair and then build a new retreat house came out of a need for extra space. Guillen said that diocesan and religious priests often ask to stay at the monastery for a retreat but they have had to turn down some requests because they only had two guest rooms.

The new house of prayer means that they can accommodate more priests and members of other religious communities in its seven guest rooms. The open space ground floor can be used by Catholic schools for gatherings for their staff, faculty and students. Guillen adds that it is another source of income for their community.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/people/nuns-retreat-house-built-muslim-benefactor-signifies-interfaith-bond

Stella Maris supports seafarers facing unseen crisis at Christmas

Seafearer
Stella Maris port chaplain with seafarer

While most businesses and companies have started winding down operations in preparation for the Christmas holidays, global maritime charity Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) will be busy supporting the many seafarers who face unseen difficulties this time of year.

The organisation’s port chaplains and ship visitors in Great Britain and around the world are working through Christmas to ensure that crew members, and particularly those going through crises, receive vital pastoral and practical support.

In one recent case, Stella Maris stepped in to help the Kenyan crew of a vessel who lacked food and water and had received death threats from the ship’s owner. The charity arranged with the local church for the crew to be visited and is working with colleagues to get the situation resolved.

“This will be a hugely stressful time for not only the crew but for their families back home too. Christmas can be a lonely time for many seafarers, without family around, but for those caught up in such awful circumstances, the effect upon their mental wellbeing is huge,” said Martin Foley, Stella Maris European Regional Coordinator.

Last week, a Stella Maris chaplain in Southern Africa learnt about a fishing vessel that was arrested in port with six seafarers on board who are without sufficient food and water. They have also not been paid their wages for a few months now.

The local Stella Maris team intervened, providing emergency food and water supplies. One of the seafarers was shivering from the cold so the chaplain gave him his own warm jacket for which he was really grateful to have. Stella Maris continues to monitor the situation.

Martin said, “Sadly, situations like these are not unfamiliar with Stella Maris port chaplains and ship visitors, as the charity’s HYPERLINK “www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk/life-sea-report” Life at Sea Report – the second edition of which will be published next year – has shown.”

He added: “The sight of a Stella Maris port chaplain or ship visitor going on board a ship is a welcome one for many seafarers, especially at this time of year when we ensure that seafarers are not forgotten and show our appreciation for the sacrifices they make throughout the year.”

 

 

 

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38585

Sister thanks ACN for bringing smiles to 19,000 children this Christmas

Sr. AnnieSr Annie with children image: ACN

Thousands of Syrian children will be smiling this Christmas thanks to Aid to the Church in Need – according to a Sister helping suffering Christians.

In an audio-message, project partner Sister Annie Demerjian thanked the charity’s benefactors for supporting children living in the ruins of the Syrian crisis.

She said: “ACN brings smiles to more than 19,000 children all over Syria because of your Christmas gifts.”

For the eighth year running, ACN is providing Christmas parcels for displaced children, including warm clothes, shoes, toys, devotional items and other essentials.

Sr Annie praised ACN’s work with the elderly and disabled Christians in Aleppo, providing food, soap and other washing items, medicine, clothes and shoes. She said: “You can’t imagine, when the old receive the aid, how they cry. They open their hands and they thank you. They thank you and they told us that they pray for you. Really you are in their prayers daily. They are grateful for all that you are offering us.”

ACN supported a project in Aleppo, at the request of Latin Bishop George Abou Khazen of Aleppo, to provide food packages for the poorest Christian families, which also include financial aid for fuel and heating oil.

Sr Annie said: “I can’t express my feeling for how you will help to warm so many houses because of the fuel you are providing.”

During the civil war, more than 1,700 Christians were killed and more than 600 abducted.

Christians in Syria have declined by up to two-thirds within the last decade. In Aleppo, the Christian population has declined by more than 80 percent since 2010, falling from 180,000 to 29,000.

Throughout Syria, ACN has provided education scholarships, medicine, rent money for housing, repairs to homes and churches, and support for Sisters and priests. Last year, the charity supported 185 projects in the country.

In her audio-message, Sr Annie said: “I am very happy to have this opportunity to send you a message to thank you for all that you are doing for our people and our families, especially those who are suffering from the consequences of the war.”

 

 

 

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38531

‘Be a voice of conscience,’ pope tells Catholic press

C2A03062-3A14-4019-BFAD-D3C0EE2BF36FPope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Nov. 8, 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

.- Pope Francis told an association of Italian Catholic news agencies Monday to stay close to the Magisterium and to use their work to distinguish what is good from what is evil.

“To renew your harmony with the magisterium of the Church, I urge you to be a voice of conscience, of a journalism capable of distinguishing good from evil, human choices from inhuman ones,” he said Sept. 23.

“Because today there is a mishmash that does not stand out, and you must help in this. The journalist – who is the chronicler of history – is called to reconstruct the memory of facts, to work for social cohesion, to tell the truth at all costs.”

Pope Francis addressed the Union of Catholic Italian Press to mark their 60th anniversary. He noted a part of the organization’s statutes, which describes itself as “a professional and ecclesial association that finds inspiration in the service of the person, in the Gospel, and in the Magisterium of the Church.”

He counseled the Catholic press to have courage, and to be always respectful and never arrogant. “The [field of] communication needs true words in the midst of so many empty words,” he said.

“And in this you have a great responsibility: your words are told to the world and shape it, your stories can generate spaces of freedom or slavery, of responsibility or dependence on power.”

The pope warned that what a journalist writes is sometimes passed through the “still” of “financial convenience” and the truth gets left behind for “what is not true, what is not beautiful, and what is not good.”

In the era of web journalism, he said the journalist’s task is to identify credible sources, and then contextualize, interpret, and properly order them.

He criticized the idea that a man could die from cold on the street and it would not be news, while instead, every news agency will talk about the stock exchange falling by two points.

Do not be afraid to turn the hierarchy of news on its head, he said, “to give voice to those who do not have it; to tell the ‘good news’ that generates social friendship: not to tell fairy tales, but good real news.”

Pope Francis also pointed to the example of Bl. Manuel Lozano Garrido (“Lolo”) a Spanish journalist who lived at the time of the Spanish war.

Beatified in 2010, he was the first secular journalist to be declared ‘blessed’ by the Church, Pope Francis said.

Despite living with an illness which forced him to be in a wheelchair for 28 years, Bl. Garrido “did not stop loving his profession,” the pope said.

“Truly a beautiful example to follow!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/be-a-voice-of-conscience-pope-tells-catholic-press-19775

Romania police chief sacked after teen ‘killed by kidnapper’

A6DECDD4-08F7-4CD6-AF4F-4B5A08017B29The murder has triggered an outpouring of emotion in Romania

Romania’s interior minister has fired the chief of police after the murder of a teenage girl whose repeated emergency calls went unheeded for hours.

The 15-year-old was abducted on Wednesday, but managed to make three calls and give officers details about where she was being held.

Her family say officers did not take her calls seriously, while police say they had difficulty tracing her.

The girl is thought to have died at the hands of her captor.

Police found human remains and jewellery the girl wore at a house, and have detained a 65-year-old man for questioning.

The girl, who has only been identified as Alexandra, was kidnapped while trying to hitchhike to her home in the southern city of Caracal, police say.

On Thursday morning, she called the emergency hotline 112 three times, and said she had been abducted by a car driver who had picked her up, AFP news agency reports.

According to police chief Ioan Buda – who has now been sacked – Alexandra yelled “he’s coming, he’s coming”, before the call disconnected.

The authorities say they initially struggled to track down the location she called from.

They identified the house where they believed she was held at 03:00 on Friday, AP news reports, citing local media.

However, police then applied for a search warrant – even though it was not legally required – and waited until the morning to enter the house.

They did not search the property until 19 hours after the girl’s final emergency call.

Police have sent off the human remains for analysis – and suspect they could belong to Alexandra, as well as an 18-year-old who went missing in April, Reuters reports.

Interior Minister Nicolae Moga said the police chief had been dismissed “because drastic measures are required”.

The interim general prosecutor Bogdan Licu, meanwhile, told TV station Antena 3: “Why [police] waited… must be clarified. A girl who by all indications could have been saved has died.”

US bishops call for new gun legislation after garlic festival shooting

BishopsCredit: Guy J. Sagi/Shutterstock.

.- After a shooting at a food festival in California on Sunday in which the gunman killed three people and injured 15, the US bishops’ representative for domestic justice called for legislation to prevent such losses.

Santino William Legan, 19, opened fire at a garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif., 30 miles southeast of San Jose, the evening of July 28. He was shot dead by police shortly after beginning to fire a rifle. Police have been investigating reports of a second suspect.

Bishop Oscar Cantú of San Jose said July 29 that “our hearts are heavy with sadness in the wake of the horrific shooting … I am grateful for the first responders and individual citizens whose quick thinking and professional actions saved countless lives.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, survivors and their families in this time of sorrow. May God, the source of our faith and strength, grant comfort and hope to all those affected by acts of violence. May grief give way to healing and grace, as we work together to protect the innocent and prevent future massacres, so that peace may prevail in our hearts and communities.”

The Diocese of San Jose held a bilingual prayer vigil July 29 at St. Mary’s parish in Gilroy.

Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice in Florida, chair of the US bishops’ committee on domestic justice and human development, said July 30 that “our legislators must make changes to our gun policy to prevent the loss of life.”

“As Americans, we must be honest with ourselves that we have a sickness, almost a plague, with the problem of gun violence. As Christians, we must look to the cross, repentant of the ways that have led us to this point and, with God’s grace, abandon such senseless, inhuman acts. Let us resolve to make the sacrifices necessary to end the violent killing that saturates our nation.”

He added that “the Lord calls us to comfort those who mourn and to be peacemakers in a violent world. We pray, and we must, for the victims and their families. The Church should act in ways that heal and support all those affected by gun violence.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/us-bishops-call-for-new-gun-legislation-after-garlic-festival-shooting-30833

Alan Kurdi rescue ship saves 44 stranded people in Mediterranean

save from seaLast week, the Alan Kurdi rescued 65 shipwrecked migrants attempting the perilous journey from North Africa [File: Darrin Zammit Lupi/AP]

At least 44 people, including infants, have been picked up from their stricken vessel off Libya’s coast in the Mediterranean Sea, according to a German charity operating the ship that rescued them.

Malta agreed to take in those rescued by the Alan Kurdi ship and was sending a vessel to pick them up, the Sea-Eye charity said late on Monday. There was no immediate confirmation by Maltese authorities.

Sea-Eye said it was alerted to the plight of the people in need of rescue by Tunisian fishermen and the Colibri civilian search plane.

“Forty-four people, including four women and three children,” were brought on board the Alan Kurdi, Sea-Eye said. The children are aged 15 months, three years, and five years.

The rescued people, who come from Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Guinea, said they had left Zuwara in Libya early on Saturday in a wooden boat, according to AFP news agency.

The Alan Kurdi last week rescued 65 shipwrecked people attempting the perilous journey to reach Europe, and handing them over to Malta on Sunday after Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini closed his country’s ports to the vessel.

They have already been sent on to other European Union countries, but it is not clear what would happen to those most recently rescued.

An Italian customs vessel, run by the NGO Mediterranea, on Tuesday brought 47 rescued people into Sicily’s Pozzallo port, Italian media reported. They had been headed to the Italian island of Lampedusa, between Sicily and Libya, but there was no space for them there as hundreds of refugees and migrants continue to arrive by their own means or are rescued by authorities.

Salvini has vowed to close Italian ports to charity rescue ships, which he accuses of helping people smugglers. Interior Ministry figures showed that 395 people have arrived in Italy since the end of June.

Italian media reported on Tuesday that this year barely one in 10 migrants and asylum seekers has been brought into Italy by charity vessels, the vast majority arriving by other means.

Sea-Watch docking

Italy last month issued a decree that imposes fines of up to 50,000 euros ($57,000) for the captain, owner and operator of a vessel “entering Italian territorial waters without authorisation”.

Authorities on Lampedusa in late June seized a rescue ship belonging to German aid group Sea-Watch, which had forced its way into port with dozens of rescued people on board, and arrested its captain, Carola Rackete.

An Italian judge subsequently ordered her freed, saying she had been acting to save lives.

Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since a 2011 uprising against the rule of late leader Muammar Gaddafi, has long been a major transit route for people, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, desperate to reach Europe.

Last week, 53 refugees and migrants were killed in an air raid on a detention centre in a Tripoli suburb held by forces loyal to Tripoli’s United Nations-recognised government.

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/alan-kurdi-rescue-ship-saves-44-stranded-people-mediterranean-190709100458532.html

 

 

Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis

Trees Redwood trees in Guerneville, California. Photograph: Gabrielle Lurie/The Guardian

Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.

As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”.

The analysis found there are 1.7bn hectares of treeless land on which 1.2tn native tree saplings would naturally grow. That area is about 11% of all land and equivalent to the size of the US and China combined. Tropical areas could have 100% tree cover, while others would be more sparsely covered, meaning that on average about half the area would be under tree canopy.

The scientists specifically excluded all fields used to grow crops and urban areas from their analysis. But they did include grazing land, on which the researchers say a few trees can also benefit sheep and cattle.

“This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said Prof Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who led the research. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”

Crowther emphasised that it remains vital to reverse the current trends of rising greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and forest destruction, and bring them down to zero. He said this is needed to stop the climate crisis becoming even worse and because the forest restoration envisaged would take 50-100 years to have its full effect of removing 200bn tonnes of carbon.

But tree planting is “a climate change solution that doesn’t require President Trump to immediately start believing in climate change, or scientists to come up with technological solutions to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere”, Crowther said. “It is available now, it is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved.” Individuals could make a tangible impact by growing trees themselves, donating to forest restoration organisations and avoiding irresponsible companies, he added.

Other scientists agree that carbon will need to be removed from the atmosphere to avoid catastrophic climate impacts and have warned that technological solutions will not work on the vast scale needed.

Jean-François Bastin, also at ETH Zürich, said action was urgently required: “Governments must now factor [tree restoration] into their national strategies.”

Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief and founder of the Global Optimism group, said: “Finally we have an authoritative assessment of how much land we can and should cover with trees without impinging on food production or living areas. This is hugely important blueprint for governments and private sector.”

René Castro, assistant-director general at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, said: “We now have definitive evidence of the potential land area for re-growing forests, where they could exist and how much carbon they could store.”

The study, published in the journal Science, determines the potential for tree planting but does not address how a global tree planting programme would be paid for and delivered.

Crowther said: “The most effective projects are doing restoration for 30 US cents a tree. That means we could restore the 1tn trees for $300bn [£240bn], though obviously that means immense efficiency and effectiveness. But it is by far the cheapest solution that has ever been proposed.” He said financial incentives to land owners for tree planting are the only way he sees it happening, but he thinks $300bn would be within reach of a coalition of billionaire philanthropists and the public.

The research is based on the measurement of the tree cover by hundreds of people in 80,000 high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth. Artificial intelligence computing then combined this data with 10 key soil, topography and climate factors to create a global map of where trees could grow.

This showed that about two-thirds of all land – 8.7bn ha – could support forest, and that 5.5bn ha already has trees. Of the 3.2bn ha of treeless land, 1.5bn ha is used for growing food, leaving 1.7bn of potential forest land in areas that were previously degraded or sparsely vegetated.

“This research is excellent,” said Joseph Poore, an environmental researcher at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford. “It presents an ambitious but essential vision for climate and biodiversity.” But he said many of the reforestation areas identified are currently grazed by livestock including, for example, large parts of Ireland.

“Without freeing up the billions of hectares we use to produce meat and milk, this ambition is not realisable,” he said. Crowther said his work predicted just two to three trees per field for most pasture: “Restoring trees at [low] density is not mutually exclusive with grazing. In fact many studies suggest sheep and cattle do better if there are a few trees in the field.”

Crowther also said the potential to grow trees alongside crops such as coffee, cocoa and berries – called agro-forestry – had not been included in the calculation of tree restoration potential, and neither had hedgerows: “Our estimate of 0.9bn hectares [of canopy cover] is reasonably conservative.”

However, some scientists said the estimated amount of carbon that mass tree planting could suck from the air was too high. Prof Simon Lewis, at University College London, said the carbon already in the land before tree planting was not accounted for and that it takes hundreds of years to achieve maximum storage. He pointed to a scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 1.5C report of 57bn tonnes of carbon sequestered by new forests this century.

Other scientists said avoiding monoculture plantation forests and respecting local and indigenous people were crucial to ensuring reforestation succeeds in cutting carbon and boosting wildlife.

Earlier research by Crowther’s team calculated that there are currently about 3tn trees in the world, which is about half the number that existed before the rise of human civilisation. “We still have a net loss of about 10bn trees a year,” Crowther said.

Visit the Crowther Lab website for a tool that enables users to look at particular places and identify the areas for restoration and which tree species are native there.

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/planting-billions-trees-best-tackle-climate-crisis-scientists-canopy-emissions