Trump VS Paris Agreement 2015

First of all, it’s worth mentioning, that Trump’s actions shouldn’t have caused such an incredible public response because if we take a look at his presidential campaign of 2016 – it’s obvious:

  • He doesn’t accept the scientific evidence that climate change is real

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

  • He wanted to dismantle the Paris agreement
  • Trump said that clean water may be one of the “most important issue we face as a nation for the next generation”
  • Wanted to keep public lands in the control of the federal government

Even though most of these statements sound provocative and inappropriate in a current environmental “crisis”, in my opinion, he has his own objective point. While the US has to reduce its carbon emissions to 15% in comparison to the basis year (1990), China proclaimed an increase in expansion of emissions until the year of 2030 and only after that it promised a further decline in a trend of ejections. That is seemed to be economically unfair because it will cost the United States billions of dollars in excess of how much financial support it already provides to the Global East and other poor countries.

However, we should not forget about the impact of this withdrawal to the following development of a project itself:

  • As the scientific forecast states – without the US (15% of the world’s emissions) – the prediction for the further global warming will be 3.5-4.0 above the average level instead of 1.5-2.0 which is damaging and critical for the environment.
  • The US example shows other countries that you can easily declare off the agreement due to its economic interest.

So overall, I think, that this decision was made in terms of the unceasing need of Donald Trump to bring economic growth of the States to a higher level. And, in my opinion, it’s too early to judge this decision or think about the consequences of this action because of essential for Trump far-seeing policy. I, personally, share the opinion of V. Putin, who said during one of his panel discussions on SPIEF’18 – This man has amazing tactics. He outlined his target voters during the presidential campaign, and, despite all of the forecast and disputes, made them vote. He has become a President of the United States of America , one of the greatest country in the world. – and that is what makes me believe in consciousness and wisdom of his team.


Evgeniya Tsyplakova


Climate change and small farmers

Have you ever thought that climate changes can have a great impact on small farmers? Most of the people think only about global warming, sea level rising, holes in the ozone layer or extreme weather. We do not think that climate changes can immediately influence our everyday life, our neighbours or even our own harvest.



Climate change represents an unprecedented challenge to agricultural production not only in the developing countries. It has already started to affect small farmers all around the world. Small farmers are suffering because of extreme weather and generally all climate changes around the world. The extreme vulnerability of small farmers to agricultural risks is important as well as the vulnerability of big agriculture corporations.

Agriculture business is always risky for small farmers and especially for small farmers in developing countries. Weather changes cause droughts, flood or tropical storms and become more and more unpredictable. Speed and intensity of climate changes are as well as unpredictable. Agriculture is very high dependent on the weather. Can you imagine that you will have the abundant harvest without enough sun or rain?

Farms with less than five acres represent about 70 percent of global food production. Small farmers produce the most of world´s food and at the same time are at the greatest risk of losing crops because of the environment changes. The consequences are more harmful in some countries than in others. Even without any climate changes are African small farmers more vulnerable than farmers in developed countries. Farmers in developing countries do not have access to the best seed varieties including heat- and drought-tolerant types, crop insurance, and precision agriculture technologies. European and American farmers in contrast with African farmers, import fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, seasonal workers and equipment from all over the world. Farmers in developed countries have another big advantage, they have access to new varieties of plants which are more resistant to weather changes.



Crop failures and livestock deaths are causing economic losses, raising food prices and undermining food security. How can we fight with these losses and consequences of climate changes? Small farmers need technologies and finances, which can help improve production and reduce climate risks. One of the solutions can be farming associations. These associations put villagers into groups and create small farming collectives. They can have better access to some new practices and technologies; they can experiment with new agricultural techniques. With enough research and technology resources, small farmers can continue to grow enough food.

Most of the countries suffer the consequences of climate change, characterized by reduction and increased variability in rainfall and an increase in temperatures. They do not have access to short-term and long-term weather information, so they are not able to effectively plan the next cropping seasons. These farmers are not fully empowered to make informed decisions about strategies that could affect their vulnerability to climate change in the future. Local communities in low-income countries need support from governments and donors, not only through direct development programs but also through national policies and programs that build sustainable adaptive capacities. It is important to build better rural infrastructure to connect farmers to markets. It can help to get better deals for machinery, seeds or other necessary inputs.

Small farmers are an integral part of our societies and, consequently, the effects of climate change on farmers can threaten food supplies and security as well as increase volatility in global food prices. These farmers are among the most immediately affected but are also the most powerless victims of climate change. Those who contribute least to global emissions are unfairly impacted by the lifestyles of wealthy consumers at the other end of the chain. They usually do not have a chance to participate in international climate change negotiations and global environmental and economic debates. Helping farmers deal with the effects of climate change needs to be a priority for all countries.

Nikola Rajčoková


Global warming, Europe cooling?

One of the biggest problems our Earth is facing today is global warming. Even many people doubt that global warming exist, probably everyone noticed that there have been changes in the weather since we were children. Me too, even my childhood was not very long time ago.

But what is it global warming? Usually we use this term to describe a gradual increase in the average temperature of Earth´  s surface, oceans and atmosphere. Over the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. And it is accelerating. All but one of the 16 hottest years in NASA´  s 134-year record have occurred since 2000. According the Environmental Protection Agency, Earth  ´s average temperature has risen by 0,8 degrees Celsius over the past century. And to future, it is projected the rise of the temperature from 1,13 to 6,4 degrees Celsius.

What are the causes of global warming? It can be also caused by changes in nature (like it is often presented by some politicians), but big majority of climate scientists agree that the rate of global warming trends the planet is now experiencing is primarily the result of human activity. Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide, methane and other air pollutants (known as greenhouse gasses) collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the Earth´  s surface. This radiation would normally escape into space, but these pollutants trap the heat and cause the planet to get hotter. This phenomenon is known as greenhouse effect.

The effects of global warming are already visible. The huge icebergs melt, the storms are more aggressive. And this is just the beginning. The scientists believe that climate change will make hurricanes more intense (we could saw it also in the past few years). It is because their energy comes from temperature differences between the warm tropical ocean and cold upper atmosphere and global warming increases this difference. Of course, temperatures are getting more intense, as well.

The fact that many people do not link with global warming is, that it can cause the cooling of some parts of Earth, mainly Europe. It is called climate paradox. How is it possible? There has been a study made in 2015 that analysed winter weather data between 1958 and 2014. The scientists found out that over the past years, ice levels in the Icelandic and Greenland seas (regions that are important regulators of Earth´  s climate system) have significantly reduced. That´s why they believe, that this loss of ice will cause the flow of warmer water from the tropics to be affected, weakening the Gulf Stream and leading to cooler temperatures in Western Europe.

The research, that was published in Nature Climate Change, is the first attempt to examine how changes in the air-sea heat exchange in the region can affect global warming. This is also the first research where scientists have considered the possible impact of these changes on oceanic circulation, including the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).

AMOC is a process in Atlantic Ocean, when warm, salty water travels north in the upper layers of the Atlantic, while a colder flow of water moves south in the deep Atlantic. It moves a large amount of heat energy from the tropics to North Atlantic. This heat is then transferred to the atmosphere and moderates the climate in this region. As the heat is transferred, the water becomes colder and denser and this sinks and travels back to the south and eventually rises again in the tropics.

The problem is, that as sea ice from Iceland and Greenland retreats, this flow of cold water to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean could be reduced, and therefore weaken the warming effects of the Gulf stream. And that could cool the atmosphere over the British Isles and western Europe. The result of this phenomenon in the medium term would be a slight cooling in average temperatures, cooler summers and less rainfall.

This is predicted to be one of the irreversible tipping points that could result in calamitous climate change. Besides Europe, this can have also negative effects for the North-eastern United States (like more summer rainfall).

According to another study, some scientists think that this phenomenon will cause a slowdown of the Thermohaline Circulation, rather than cooling Europe. That would mean that the continent will still warm, but less quickly than other parts of the world. This new situation could rise the welfare in Europe, because other parts of the world will warn faster. The study also predicts that developing countries may warm faster than other, more developed parts of the world.

There are also scientists that do not believe the Gulf stream has so large impact on the climate in Europe. They think the role of ocean heat transport in determining regional climates around the Atlantic Ocean is limited and the atmospheric flow of heat has a major influence on climate in North Atlantic region. According to their study, a slowdown of the Gulf Stream would cause a modest cooling tendency. This would not change the contrast across the Atlantic and not put Europe back into the ice age or anything like it. In fact, the cooling tendency would probably be overwhelmed by the direct radiatively-driven warming by rising greenhouse gases. They even compare this “European climate myth” to myths like Earth being flat and sun going around the Earth.

The opinions of scientists on causes of global warming in Europe are different. There are also researches made to support their arguments. Some of them think the global warming can cause the cooling of Europe, some of them do not think so. The fact is, that even if it didn´  t cause cooling of Europe, it will have some consequences, more likely negative. That means, no matter of cooling or warming, we must stop it in order to maintain the climate we are used to now. Not just to save Europe, but to save the whole world.

Governments need to jointly decide to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emission by switching to renewable sources of energy. But we, as individuals can contribute to this too in our everyday life. We can use more energy efficient appliances, use less hot water, recycle, use reusable bags, buy fresh locally grown and produced foods. Also, we could reduce the number of miles we drive by walking, biking, taking mass transit whenever possible. It is all on us, we can stop it, but we need to cooperate and change our way of life unless it´s too late.

Lucia Poláková


Climate change is affecting people´s lives in Africa


Climate change is real. It is happening all around us. Over the last century, our planet has become warmer. But in particular over the last 40 years it is now recognized that human activity is largely responsible for this global warming. The burning of fossil fuels has released huge quantity of gasses which trap additional heat in our atmosphere. The impact of this is being seen worldwide: the glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, the diseases are spreading, the dry areas are expanding and the food security is threatened. Unfortunately, the African continent is particularly exposed and vulnerable to the negative effects of global warming because of its geographical position. Global warming is affecting people´s lives in three key areas: agriculture, water, and health. As we know water is very important for people in Africa because of their farming activities. It allows them to grow their crops of the agriculture and for the money that they are receiving from the sale of their crops; they can send their children to school to have better lives than their parents and to learn how to manage problems that are caused by global warming or to buy them medicines if they get sick. But because of raising temperature and lack of rain fall because of climate change the dry lands are expanding so the people who live in the most arid areas of Africa are highly dependent on forests and trees that provide them with food and medicine because agriculture is poor option in these parts of Africa. So the farmers in Africa are facing really serious problems and challenges. However, agriculture is highly dependent on water and because of global warming and temperature raising the yields in some parts of Africa could drop by up to 50%. Whereas, in poor areas of Africa the water is missing, farmers are not able to increase production. But water is not only important for agriculture because the water is also used in households, schools, hospitals as well as for animals which are a source of food too.

Nowadays, the Africa is facing lack of water and the droughts. So the main challenge for the Africa is irrigation, water supply and implementation of the best water management because all is related. If the water is polluted because of human activity, the farmers in Africa will not be able to use this water for their lands because it will have a bad impact on the soil and on crops which are produced on this land. If there will be no harvest then they will not have the money available for education and health. And when people drink contaminated water they can die. So land loses farmers who are taking care of her and the world loses people who are taking care for our livelihood.

The role of agriculture is undeniable for the African people. The agriculture is the main source of food and income for them. In this case, if the harvest is not good enough, prices of crops are falling which means a significant drop in income for African people. Because of this one of the main objectives in Africa is how to keep African soil productive, water clear, forests maintained and find the ways to avoid all the negative consequences that global warming brings. In any case, it will be very difficult task for African government and civil society. What are the other consequences of the global warming on Africa? climate-change-vulnerability-in-africa_7239

It is assumed that the temperature will rise by 4ºC in 2100 and this will cause 40% less rainfall. So some areas in Africa will get drier and drier, but not only in Africa. When this will happen there will be more droughts, more high winds and also more floods which will be caused by extreme weather events because of climate changes. All these factors will affect productivity in agriculture and thus the GDP will drop, croplands will drop by up to 90% and people´s health will be affected. Climate change also causes various diseases from food and water such as cholera, dengue and malaria and threatens people´s nutrition mostly in Africa due to soil contamination, so food security will decrease. Food insecurity leads to famine which is nowadays one of the biggest world´s problems too. Not only nature will suffer, but the people will suffer and all because of us and our actions. That is why the only solution is monitoring the situation in Africa by satellite observations, cooperation between countries and ensuring the transmission and sharing of information, tools and systems. Nowadays there are a substantial number of projects between Africa and other countries that are trying to help people living in Africa in the provision of water, food and soil protection. The one of the many projects is EAU4FOOD which is project between African and European Union to increase food production in irrigated farming systems or the projects WHaTer and CLARA which help provide clean water and build water supplies in small communities in Africa. And the example of declaration is Libreville Declaration on Health and Environment in Africa (2008). This declaration describes the major health and environment challenges.

It is in our power to change the world, so if we can help we should. And the reason id simple: nature can live without us but we cannot live without nature!








First of all, I would like to explain the word deforestation – what it means. Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. Deforestation is considered to be one of the contributing factors to global climate change. An estimated 18 million acres  of forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost each year, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

Trees are cut down for many reasons, for example:

  • To be used, sold or exported as timber, wood or fuel
  • To be used for farming purposes
  • To make room for human settlement and urbanization
  • To make room for mining
  • Soy, palm oil and other crop plantations

The number one problem caused by deforestation is the impact on the global carbon cycle. Gas molecules that absorb thermal infrared radiation are called greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most prevalent greenhouse gas. In 2012, CO2 accounted for about 82 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas. The deforestation of trees not only lessens the amount of carbon stored, it also releases carbon dioxide into the air. This is because when trees die, they release the stored carbon. Deforestation releases nearly a billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere per year, though the numbers are not as high as the ones recorded in the previous decade. Deforestation is the second largest anthropogenic source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, ranging between 6 percent and 17 percent.

I would like to talk about Amazonian deforestation because of the high pecantage of deforestation in this area. Even though Amazonia is not even in first 20 top deforestated areas. Since 1978 over 750,000 square kilometers  of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed across Brazil,Colombia, Bolivia, Peru,  Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana.

Deforestation in the Amazon was primarily the product of subsistence farmers who cut down trees to produce crops for their families and local consumption. But in the later part of the 20th century, that began to change, with an increasing proportion of deforestation driven by industrial activities and large-scale agriculture. By the 2000s more than three-quarters of forest clearing in the Amazon was for cattle-ranching. The result of this shift is forests in the Amazon were cleared faster than ever before in the late 1970s through the mid 2000s.

Vast areas of rainforest were felled for cattle pasture and soy farms, drowned for dams, dug up for minerals, and bulldozed for towns and colonization projects. At the same time, the proliferation of roads opened previously inaccessible forests to settlement by poor farmers, illegal logging, and land speculators. But that trend began to reverse in Brazil in 2004. Since then, annual forest loss in the country that contains nearly two-thirds of the Amazon’s forest cover has declined by roughly eighty percent. The drop has been fueled by a number of factors, including increased law enforcement, satellite monitoring, pressure from environmentalists, private and public sector initiatives, new protected areas, and macroeconomic trends. Nonetheless the trend in Brazil is not mirrored in other Amazon countries, some of which have experienced rising deforestation since 2000.

In Brazil in 1970 was total forest loss 98, 400 square kilometres, in 2000 was the number of the forest loss much higher and the number was already 575,903 square kilometres. Year by year the loss is bigger and bigger, in 2015 the total forest loss was 768, 935 square kilometres. The number of deforestated area is almost 8 times higher than it was in year 1970. These numbers are just the deforestation of Amazonia in Brazil. Brazil holds about one-third of the world’s remaining rainforests, including a majority of the Amazon rainforest. Terrestrially speaking, it is also the most biodiverse country on Earth, with more than 56,000 described species of plants, 1,700 species of birds, 695 amphibians, 578 mammals, and 651 reptiles.

10 most deforestated countries in the world are:

  1. Honduras
  2. Nigeria
  3. The Philippines
  4. Benin
  5. Ghana
  6. Indonesia
  7. Nepal and North Korea
  8. Ecuador and Haiti

One of the easy ways how to combat the deforestation is to plant a tree. Personally I think that this is not helping to solve the problem of the deforestation. If we plant one tree, other three trees are cut down. What could help are the companies which are using the trees.

When companies have the power to destroy the world’s forests, they also have the ability to help save them. Companies can make an impact by introducing “zero deforestation” policies that clean up their supply chains. That means holding their suppliers accountable for producing commodities like timber, beef, soy, palm oil and paper in a way that does not fuel deforestation and has a minimal impact on our climate. Companies should set ambitious targets to maximize the use of recycled wood, pulp, paper and fiber in their produts.

Donáta Čepčeková


Ocean Acidification

Healthy oceans are essential for human life. They cover 71 percent of our planet and represent the basic component that makes life on Earth possible. We all depend on healthy oceans. I would say that the most important benefit we all have thanks to the oceans is the oxygen as oceans produce more than half of the oxygen in the atmosphere and absorb a big amount of carbon from it. For tens of millions of years, Earth’s oceans have maintained a relatively stable acidity level and this resistant environment with rich and varied web of life in today’s seas has arisen and flourished. But recent research shows that this balance is being undone by a recent and rapid decrease in surface pH that could have serious global consequences. I have chosen to write about ocean acidification mainly due to the fact that this issue is not given as much attention as deforestation, water scarcity or global warming and because of this incontestable importance of oceans for life.

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the early 1800s, fossil fuel-powered machines have driven an unprecedented burst of human industry and advancement. The unfortunate consequence, however, has been the emission of billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists now know that about half of this anthropogenic, or man-made, CO2 has been absorbed over time by the oceans (read more here:


Picture 1

When carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by seawater, chemical reactions occur that reduce seawater pH, carbonate ion concentration, and saturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate minerals. These chemical reactions are termed “ocean acidification“. Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for the skeletons and shells of many marine organisms. In areas where most life now congregates in the ocean, the seawater is supersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate minerals. This means there are abundant building blocks for calcifying organisms to build their skeletons and shells. However, continued ocean acidification is causing many parts of the ocean to become undersaturated with these minerals, which is likely to affect the ability of some organisms to produce and maintain their shells. Over the past two hundred years, the pH level of the ocean surface has decreased by 0.1 units. This change of 0.1 units represents a thirty percent increase in acidity levels. Future predictions show that the oceans will become even more acidic. Based on usual emission scenarios, it is predected that by the end of this century ocean waters could be 150 percent more acidic, that means that pH level will reach a point that haven´t experienced for more than 20 million years (read more here

The negative effect of bad ocean biochemistry is not only effecting the ocean itself but also coastal cities and people living near the oceans and rivers that depend on its healthy environment the most. Local economies will suffer because of poisoned fish and low supply. Fisherman will not be able to provide food for the local community, and they will suffer also because they cannot sell as much fish as they used to. Tourism will be affected as well because  species living near to the oceans will become extinct. During the years when the oceans have been poisoned by high levels of carbon dioxide, the marine life have not had a possibility to adapt to the new levels of acid in their habitat. Shells erode and species are forever poisoned due to the lack of adaptability the creatures face. There are only few organisms that are able to adapt to the new acidity levels but many other organisms do not have this capacity for evolution. Every single organism is important and play a key role in maintaining the marine food web. Dangers to the biodiversity in the ocean not only affect the marine life food web, but the human food and economic web that depends on healthy fish (read more here:

The most convincing evidence that the ocean acidification is effecting marine ecosystems are coral reefs. Coral reefs are massive underwater structures and are some of the oldest and most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They build structures that provide food and shelter for many marine organisms. We can find them in more than 100 countries around the world. Worldwide, coral reefs cover an estimated 285 000 square kilometers, less than 1 percent of the sea floor, but are home to 25 percent of ocean species, including 4 000 species of fish and thousands of plants and animals. Reefs are centres of biodiversity. 3 000 species can live on one reef and depend on the reef for food and shelter. If today’s carbon dioxide levels double as expected by 2100, there will be a 3 to 60 percent decline in the rate of reef building. Coral reefs are being lost more than twice as fast as the rainforests. It is estimated that we will lose the other 50 percent over the next 40 years. We need healthy coral reefs for a healthy world. They are home to more than 1 million diverse aquatic species. They provide new medicines for humans, fisheries depend on them and they provide a natural barrier protecting coastal cities, communities and beaches (read more here:


Picture 2

Solutions to ocean acidification

Here are some possible solutions that might be helpful in decreasing the impact of ocean acidification:

  • Strict regulations

I think that this might be the best solution because human actions are best guarded by the policies of the country. It is possible to reach it through ratification of legislations that can ensure that the waste handling, among other pollution-risk activities are controlled. These regulations would spread to the fisheries department to ensure that safety is maintained in food consumption.

  • Education

Education is a key factor in every aspect of life and in my opinion it plays a key role in environmental issues. Schools, governments and international organizations can create some projects where they educate or sensitize the common citizens on the risks posed by the climate change and ocean acidification. Such initiatives can instill some self-triggered discipline that acts as guidance for the quest to environmental conservation.

  • Consuming only the “right fish”

Increase in acidity level will make fish consumption a risky affair. This is why the authorities would be tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that only the less harmless fish are going to be sell. This can be very helpful in reducing the chances of having food poisoning and carbon gas circulation in the environment.

  • Reducing the consumption of carbon-oriented energy sources

The presence of high concentration of carbon in the atmosphere is a result of various human activities which can be controlled to some extent. Carbon emitted from the fossil fuels can be reduced through the minimization of use of such fuels. We can switch to alternative/renewable energy sources that are the best available option. Diversification of energy sources such as the use of solar and wind as the alternative energy sources can significantly pay off.

Other ways in which individuals can help to reduce ocean acidification: be mindful of our pollution rates, eat less fish, eat humanely sourced food, use less water, recycle, plant and maintain trees, rely less on coal and fossil fuels, etc. You can read about many other ideas here:,

To sum up, problem of ocean acidification is relatively recent, and researchers are just beginning to study its effects on marine ecosystems and human life. People do not know much about this problem and may think that it is not so serious issue but we can already see some consequences of bad chemistry of the oceans today. All signs indicate that unless humans are able to control and eventually eliminate our fossil fuel emissions, ocean organisms will find themselves under increasing pressure to adapt to their habitat’s changing chemistry or perish. With the pace of ocean acidification accelerating, scientists, resource managers, and policymakers recognize the urgent need to strengthen the science as a basis for sound decision making and action. But not only scientists can contribute to solve this problem, there are little things we can do every day to make less harmful impact on the environment. Taking care of the Earth is not just a responsibility, it is a privilege.

Petra Kasášová



Reforestation efforts and their consequences

As we all know, deforestation poses a huge environmental threat, with about 7.3 million hectares (which supposedly is about half the area of England, for example) of forest disappearing every year, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. This practice comes with negative effects which affect areas such as climate change, number of species, soil erosion, water cycle and general life quality. It goes without saying how vital trees are for our existence. Therefore, many countries as well as organizations are trying to counter it with reforestation or afforestation.


Reforestation can be described as the process of planting new trees in areas where they have been damaged or destroyed, mostly by fire, disease and logging. While it is sometimes possible for forests to naturally regenerate themselves through dispersal of their seeds by wind or animals, areas which have been severely hit need manual help. That is where we come in.

The obvious reason for reforesting is recovery of trees that have been accidentally destroyed. But there are other uses. Reforesting helps fight pollution and is used to mitigate climate change, through the ability of trees to absorb carbon dioxide. In some cases, forests are managed, new trees are planted to replace those that were cut down, much like crops.

During the Great Leap Forward in China, which happened in 1950s, millions of hectares of native forest were changed to cropland. In the following decades, forests continued to be destroyed. China spent about 14 billion dollars between 2000-2010 on the protection of forests. After years of intensive logging, the country has introduced a few national programs regarding forest restoration. In 2000, after major floods in the late 90’s, China has introduced the Natural Forest Conservation Program – a logging ban designed to battle soil erosion and deforestation. And it has proven to be a big success. An independent analysis in the journal Science Advances found that between 2000 and 2010, forest cover increased over 1.6% of China’s territory (15.7 million hectares), while at the same time about 0.4% of the country’s territory (3.7 million hectares) lost its forests, which implies significant net gain. According to the study, China has pledged to increase its forest cover by a total of 40 million hectares between 2005 and 2020. Another program, which is said to be the worlds largest reforestation program, involving the largest population in the history of China and in the world, is the so-called Grain-for-Green Program. This effort, which is supported by the Chinese government, was first initiated in 1999 and was later implemented in 2002 across the country. One of the many program’s objectives is to change agricultural fields and farmlands in slopes back to forest. Within this program, rural residents are also being encouraged to plant forests, grasslands and shrubs. The Grain-for-Green program is in place in about 26 out of 31 mainland provinces covering around 60 million farmers. It has thus big significance in poverty alleviation too. Like the Natural Forest Conservation Program, this effort has similarly tried to address the soil erosion problem. It has transformed about 28 million hectares of cropland and barren scrubland back to forest. The program has helped reduce soil and water erosion as well.

Now the important question is, whether these efforts are really that successful as they seem and if there aren’t some less desirable side effects to the projects and to reforestation in general. I think that often many topics and issues that even seem unrelated are in reality intertwined and the solution of one might influence another in a good or bad way. It could even create a chain reaction of sorts. This is especially true if were talking about ecology and the environment.

Now back to China. While the overall significance of these programs and their results are undeniable, the authors of the previously mentioned study are worried that since China increases its imports of lumber, the whole problem of deforestation is simply transferred onto other countries. The Chinese lands gain low biodiversity forests, while the foreign high biodiversity forests are being used to satisfy the demand in China. The whole topic thus needs to be tackled globally. That’s the way I understood it, anyway.

Continuing with the topic of biodiversity, a research led by Princeton university has found that the above mentioned Grain-for-Green Program is not very effective in restoring the biodiversity of native forests, since it’s mostly planting just monoculture forests (just one species) and can potentially even harm the local wildlife. If it were not possible to restore the native forests, the second best option would be mixed forests.

To sum it up, I believe that this is a good example of how things can mutually affect one another on a regional, as well as on a global scale. Reforestation is a more complex topic than one would think. It’s not just about planting trees, but about the different factors that influence the outcome, too.

Branislav Janál