QUITO – Ecuador has joined the global campaign against the climate crisis with a project to plant millions of trees.
Oxygen for the future includes planting one million trees in the next three years and nine million by 2030.
The Latin American country is far away from the countries that pollute the most but is suffering from the consequences of global warming with melting glaciers, increased rainfall and prolonged droughts.
According to scientist Thomas Crowther, a specialist in ecosystem ecology and chief scientific advisor to the United Nation’s Trillion Tree Campaign, a solution to mitigate the climate crisis is to plant 1.2 billion trees to absorb the CO2 produced in a decade.
Ecuador, which is responsible for generating 0.15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, is set to be the first Latin American country to fulfill its reforestation quota.
The project aims to be a reference for the region by giving an example of a recovery not seen on the continent before and which will also combat loss of biodiversity.
It will be formally announced on Thursday and will begin in March 2020 in the Yanacocha Reserve, 45 minutes from the Ecuadorian capital.
Maria Eugenia Moreno, project manager of Ecuambiente one of the organisations behind the scheme, said it also aims to recover endemic species and contribute to the ecosystem of the black-breasted puffleg, a critically endangered species of hummingbird native to Ecuador.
Yanacocha is fundamental for the production and conservation of water for Quito and is in the high part of the western slopes of the Pichincha Volcano and home to pumas, oncilla spotted cats and spectacled bears.
At an altitude of 4,500 meters plants and birds abound, and it is there the first 100,000 trees will be planted.
Next in line for a greenery boost will be the Choco Andino de Pichincha Biosphere Reserve.
Over the years, the area on the north coast of Ecuador has been devastated and has lost more than 60% of vegetation cover.
Efrain Cepeda, director of the Northern Reserves of the Jocotoco Foundation, said it is an extremely diverse site and important due to its high level of endemism.
The ambitious project will replant native species such as polylepis pauta, cedar, laurel, cinnamon and guayacan, depending on the area of reforestation.
Planting each tree and keeping it alive for its first five years will cost $4.50, a tiny figure compared to the environmental value.
Recovery of reforested areas will lead to the improvement of environmental services related to the quality of oxygen and water basins, and help reaffirm the identity and economy of communities that depend on those environments.
Moreno said: “We live in a country whose economy depends on extractive activities and in that context it is still much more necessary for all of us to join forces in order to leave an inheritance of a healthy and living country.”
The project will be financed with local and international contributions, and involves measuring the carbon emissions produced by a company to determine how many plants should be sown and the number of hectares.
Once the goal is fulfilled a certificate will be issued that will account for the social responsibility assumed by the company.
Moreno said one of the aims is to raise environmental and ethical awareness in industries and citizens to change habits.