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In the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, there is space enough for trees to grow—and space enough for 2 million residents to plant truckloads of trees while social distancing.
Although the virus has spread fast throughout the country, its threat was not enough to dissuade the government of the most-populous Indian state from conducting a mass tree-planting campaign along the banks of the river Ganges as part of its pledge to shade a third of the nation under tree cover by 2030.
The nation’s target acreage of 235 million acres would represent an area the size of Texas and New Mexico combined.
The planting was carried out last week by volunteers, nonprofit employees, government workers, and even lawmakers, all of whom maintained distance from each other and wore face masks to stop the possible spread of coronavirus.
“We are committed to increase the forest cover of Uttar Pradesh to over 15% of the total land area in next five years,” said the state’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, pictured above during the campaign’s inauguration ceremony.
“In today’s campaign, over 20 million trees will be planted at the banks of the Ganges river, which will help in keeping this mighty river clean.”
Many nations have targeted 2030 as the deadline for various sustainability-related goals, to coincide with the UN’s 18 Sustainable Development Goals designed to encourage nations to solve the world’s largest problems, such as poverty, hunger, pollution, access to clean water, education access, and more.
Mass tree plantings have been launched as an easy and inexpensive method of drawing carbon from the atmosphere, with hundreds of millions of trees being planted in countries around the world, including China, Pakistan, India, Madagascar, and the nations of the Sahel, especially Ethiopia and Senegal.
The survival of every tree during such mass-planting operations is not guaranteed, of course, but compared to changing energy and transportation infrastructure, tree-planting is easy, inexpensive, and helpful in regenerating previously degraded land back to healthy, functioning ecosystems.