The plantation of 500 million trees in Europe by 2025 with scientific criteria and the promotion of the environmental education of citizens is the main objective of Life Terra, an international project in which the University of Barcelona takes part, and that works to mitigate the effects of climate change, working with society’s participation.
The initiative wants to involve about fifty million volunteers in the tree plantation and raise awareness among 100 million people through the activities and awareness campaigns to protect the environment. The project, which aims to promote sustainability and green economy in the European continent, is driven by Sven Kallen, creator of Life Terra Foundation, and counts on the participation of the experts Santi Sabaté, Teresa Sauras and Francesc Sabater, from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the Faculty of Biology of the UB, lecturers of the master’s degree in Ecology, Environmental Management and Restoration of the UB.
Taking care of nature with a more involved citizenship
Life Terra action joins efforts with the European strategy and forest policies for the conservation of biodiversity, the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the new growth strategy of the European Green Deal. The climate project, which aims to contribute to the capture and storage of carbon through tree plantation, is co-funded by 7 million euros from the LIFE Program, launched by the EU to support environmental projects.
In Spain, Life Terra counts on the participation of the entity VolTerra, Land Life Company, the UB, Viveros Fuenteamarga and Efe Agency, which takes part in the communication group of the consortium through the platform of environmental information Efeverde 360. Internationally, it counts on the participation of the entities Life Terra Stichting, Gynzy, BrightVives and Land Life Company (Netherlands); CybELE and Naturaleza y Hombre Portugal (ANUH, Portugal); EURACTIV and European Schoolnet (Belgium); Comunicazione Europe (Germany), Legambiente (Italy); IFER (Czech Republic) and CERTH (Greece).
Every tree goes with its best natural habitat
“Climate change and its derivations are one of the main threats for the conservation of forest ecosystems worldwide”, notes lecturer Santi Sabaté, principal researcher of the project at the UB and member of the Ecological and Forestry Applications Research Centre (CREAF). “On the one hand, due to the change in conditions it causes ─rise of temperatures, changes in pluviometry, etc.─, and on the other, due to the increasing perturbations related to these changes (fires, droughts, storms, plague spreads, etc.).
Every restored forest hectare can take about two-hundred tons of carbon dioxide for a period of forty years. With this premise, Life Terra launched the plantation of thousands of trees and bushes in different parts of the country and the European continent. Every planted tree is georeferenced and monitored in the long-run through an app created by Life Terra in order to supervise the growth and evolution of each specimen.
These sessions to plant trees and bushes are open to the participation of all the involved citizens in the protection of the environment. In Catalonia, natural areas of Bruc and Delta de Llobregat have been a place for forest restoration sessions with the participation of volunteers and experts motivated with the Life Terra call.
Replanting forests with scientific criteria
The UB-CREAF team, which collaborates in these sessions, takes part in the review of criteria and the plantings, as well as the scientific counselling. This is a task that involves the knowledge and analysis of features of the natural habitat and the most species of environmental resilience ─such as species that resprout after fires─ to reach a more efficient forest restoration. The team supervises the previous preparation of the plant material from the garden centers and the potential combinations of species for different environmental conditions. Also, it promotes knowledge transfer ─work on scientific material, portfolios and protocols, and teaching materials for primary and secondary education schools─ for all members and entities that collaborate with this project.
“We cannot forget the importance of involving the society through knowledge transfer. It is important for citizens to do things because they understand the challenges, not because they are told to do so”, note Santi Sabaté, Teresa Sauras and Francesc Sabater. “We are also interested in carrying out the scientific monitoring of this action to evaluate what has worked and what has not, and how to correct things that can be improved. That is, to ass information and indicators that can help us to decide on strategies regarding forest replanting”.
Planting, connecting and inspiring
Apart from involving citizens in the projection of nature and to connect with it, Life Terra wants to inspire future generations to act against the challenges of climate change through an online interactive program on environmental education. Moreover, Life Terra will launch actions such as the opportunity to adopt a tree or to take part in other individual and collective initiatives to make up for the carbon emissions and restore the environmental health of the planet.
Video by EFE Agency