A welcome tree-planting frenzy
In a move that surprised many people, Spain’s conservative Popular Party (PP) leader Mariano Rajoy promised last week that 500 million trees will be planted by 2012 if his party wins the Spanish general election on March 9th.
Given that it followed the announcement that Prime Minister Zapatero will plant one tree for every inhabitant if he is re-elected, amounting to around 45 million new trees, these moves show that environmental issues are important enough to be given some thought in both campaigns. It is good to see this issue take center-stage at a general election, even for a brief time.
Alongside planting new trees, some wise measures should be taken to avoid the burning of existing ones in the fires that engulf Spanish forests every summer.
Places like Finland or Japan have shown the world how to reforest and to exploit forests sustainably, so everybody wins.
Forests in areas where there are valued economically as well as ecologically (wood, mushrooms and ecotourism) are infinitely less likely to be consumed in a fire.
In Spain there is a glaring example in the province of Soria (Castile and Leon region) where forests are an economic resource to be looked after. Therefore, in Soria, undergrowth cleaning and firewatch towers are prevalent and wildfires a rare ocurrence.
I want to finish sending out some props to some guys here in the US with the same goal: American Forests, a non-profit that has planted 23 million trees in its Global ReLeaf campaign and that is planning to plant 100 million more by 2020.