A chance for a global eco-rethink or a waste of green opportunities?

A wider view of the state of the environment with veteran conservationist Mike Stentiford

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IT is always back-slappingly good when an initiative comes along that ticks all the eco-green feel-good boxes.

One of the most ambitious environmental regeneration programmes ever attempted is the Great Green Wall project, a reforesting concept that aims to address severe land degradation in parts of Africa.

Recognised as a truly pan-African project, this mega-green restoration initiative is designed to transform barren desert landscapes into a biodiversity-rich forest-scape.

Involving thousands of local volunteers, this huge tree/whip/seed-planting exercise stretches across the width of Africa and is now recognised as a remarkably plausible environmental turning point. From little desert acorns, one might say.

AS with everything these days, there are always two sides to every story.

Take the latest spat surrounding the approval of the new state-of-the-art Woodhouse coal mine in Cumbria.

In the red corner is Cumbria County Council, who are naturally cock-a-hoop that hundreds of new jobs can be created in an area already suffering from savage unemployment.

Turning the page in the green corner is the Climate Change Committee plus many young campaigners who collectively state that the production of coal – including the intended coke-coal mined from the Woodhouse Colliery – has no place in a world intent on achieving impressively green goals.

Wherever the arguments go, it’s likely to create a few red faces when the COP26 Climate Summit gets underway in November.

THE wretched pandemic that’s turning the world upside-down and triple sideways is having a devious effect in ways previously unimaginable, not least within the realms of the environment.

One of the hottest topics still at boiling point in the UK is that of HS2, a massive undertaking that’s causing big-time riffs between people offering remarkably differing opinions.

Many clearly see the pledge of creating far better job opportunities as mercifully advantageous.

Conversely, others suspect that the current Covid-driven ‘working from home’ mindset scuttles away any anticipation of future record ticket sales.

Add to the mix a continuing disregard of biodiversity and the wrecking of ancient landscapes and the apt description of HS2 as ‘a destructive vanity project’ begins to ring loud and true.

MANY around the world will have given a loud hallelujah with the swearing in of Joe Biden as the 47th President of the United States of America.

Unlike his predecessor, whose closest embrace of the environment would likely be on one of his own golf courses, the new president has, as best a 78-year-old veteran can, hit the green ground running.

In addition to the US rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, pledges have been made to transition the power sector away from fossil fuels towards net zero emissions by 2035.

Announcements have also been made of a US-hosted Climate Leaders’ Summit on 22 April – World Earth Day.

It’s an amazingly positive turnaround although one that’s unlikely to be without its volatile detractors.

THERE is scant doubt that ‘trees are jolly good fellows’ a fact that Jersey, as part of the massively global tree-planting revolution, fully endorses.

Because of their ability to soak up carbon dioxide, provide mankind with food, fuel and medicines while likewise offering a safety net to a diversity of wildlife, we should all be in total awe of every tree we come across.

Nevertheless, according to experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, planting the wrong tree in the wrong place is likely to make a forest go ‘ga-ga'.

So often, it seems, new areas are chosen for reforesting rather than offering much needed TLC to existing mature trees and woodlands. The rule of thumb, say the researchers at Kew, is to better maintain and manage existing ‘pensionable’ woodlands and forests that have a far superior ability to soak up carbon.

Something we ourselves might dwell on when an awkward old tree gets in the way of ‘progress’.

AND finally… How good it is to see New Zealand pushing the green button and unveiling a visionary climate-change plan.

An official blueprint has been released pledging the phasing out of all petrol-powered cars by 2032 and, by the same token, replacing them with electric ‘lightweight’ vehicles just three years later.

The NZ Climate Change Commission also has plans to drastically cut down on the methane gas levels emitted by the country’s vast legions of domestic cattle.

This they intend to do by reducing the size of stock herds, an intent that’s unlikely to excite the tastebuds of your average NZ cattle farmer.

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