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Ukraine vows to plant one billion trees to fight climate change – Euronews

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced ambitious plans to plant one billion trees across the Eastern European country in the next three years.

The announcement came just days after the climate negotiations at the COP26 summit in Glasgow came to a close.

Along with the whole 27-nation European Union, Ukraine hopes to plant some three billion trees over the next decade to take a deep breath and restore the “lungs of the planet”.

Trees naturally absorb carbon of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas produced by burning fossil fuels, like oil and coal. Scientists say forests act as huge carbon sinks, draining heat-trapping CO2.

There are also plans to build more than ten modern breeding and seed centres in the next three years.

In the country’s northern Zhytomyr region, workers are putting small tree seedlings into the ground in an attempt to counteract the effects of climate change.

“[The whole of] Europe declared plans to plant three billion trees in ten years, but our plan is planting one billion in three years,” said Yuriy Bolokhovets, head of the state forest agency.

But one scientist doubts the “unrealistic” aim can be achieved.

“This is absolutely unrealistic in terms of space and timing planned by the president,” claimed Ukrainian nature conservation and biodiversity expert Bohdan Prots.

“They must plant 10 trees or 200 seedlings in a second, so this is not possible, technically,” he added.

With its area of more than 600 thousand square kilometres, Ukraine is the second-largest country on the continent, if counting Russia in its entirety.

According to experts, approximately 16 per cent of Ukraine’s territory is covered by forest, and 3 to 4 per cent more is needed to combat climate change.

However, foresters in western Ukraine say they are already seeing the effects of climate change, with higher temperatures and lower groundwater leading to the drying up of European pines, the most common tree in Ukraine’s part of the Carpathian Mountains.

“In my opinion, global warming is the main reason for the drying up of the European pine,” noted Vasyl Dmytryiv, the head of Ukraine’s forest unit.

A 2019 study by Swiss scientists revealed that the most effective way to fight global warming is to plant a trillion trees, if not more.

The study calculated that over the decades, those new trees could suck up nearly 830 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — about as much carbon pollution as humans have spewed in the past 25 years.

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