How phantom forests are used for greenwashing

Friday 20 May 2022

 
Capturing carbon by increasing forest cover has become central to the fight against climate change. But there's a problem. Sometimes these forests exist on paper only - because promises have not been kept, or because planted trees have died or even been harvested. A new effort will now be made to track success and failure.

Dr Jurgenne Primavera is being paddled in a canoe along the coast of Iloilo in the Philippines. It's an idyllic scene but she is frowning. Six years ago, these shallow waters were planted with mangroves as part of the country's ambitious National Greening Programme, but now there is nothing to see but blue water and blue sky.

Ninety per cent of the seedlings died, Dr Primavera says, because the type of mangrove planted was suited to muddy creeks rather than this sandy coastal area. The government preferred it, she suggests, because it is readily available and easy to plant.

"Science was sacrificed for convenience in the planting." The National Greening Programme was an attempt to grow 1.5 million hectares of forest and mangroves between 2011 and 2019 but a withering report from the country's Commission on Audit found that in the first five years 88% of it had failed.

Tim Christophersen, until this month head of Nature for Climate with the UN Environment Programme, says that of the one billion hectares of landscape that countries have promised to restore worldwide "most" remains a promise rather than a reality.

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Source: BBC

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