The Australian government has unveiled its initiative to plant one-billion trees by the middle of the century, in hopes of meeting obligations of the Paris climate agreement with an ISO 14001-inspired initiative.
Australia is home to the world’s seventh-largest area of forest coverage, with 17 per cent of its land area covered by forest, according to the government’s 2018 ‘State of the Forests’ report, but the current government’s initiative is aiming to increase that number.
Just days ago, Scott Morrison announced that Tasmania will be home to four of nine pilot forestry hubs, along with NSW, WA and across the South Australian-Victorian border; another five hubs will be created by 2020, according to the government.
Senator Richard Colbeck told press at a news conference that the Liberal party had “set ourselves and objective of one billion trees by 2030. That is a lot of trees, that is about 400-thousand hectares,” he said.
“We have seen previously that there has been some issues with land conversation in the community and we are very committed to make sure we manage that sensitively and properly.”
The new 'regional forestry hubs’ plan, which is said to contribute ‘more than $23-billion to the national economy’, according to prime minister Scott Morrison, promoting the benefits to the employment sector the initiative would bring to 52,000 Australians that are directly or indirectly employed in the forestry industry, according to the PM.
The announcement also comes shortly after a recent OECD report stated that Australia would fail to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement unless it intensified its efforts to reduce emissions.
The Straits Times reported that, “despite rapidly growing use of wind and solar power, Australia remains heavily dependent on coal and natural gas for energy, while emissions from the transport sector are growing.”
The OECD review stated that “Australia needs to intensify mitigation efforts to reach its Paris Agreement goal: emissions are projected to increase by 2030,” in response to projections that show Australia’s emission rates rising, rather than falling in the coming years due to a reliance on non-renewables for energy production.
Secretary-General of the OECD, Angel Gurria added that “adopting an integrated energy and climate policy framework for 2030 with an emission reduction goal for the power sector would avoid the projected rise in GHG emissions.”
A recently published Independent report cited ecologist Dr Thomas Crowther, who said that reforestation is "our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change."
The move could be construed as a simple election ploy, however, if the plan is to go ahead, Australia will be better positioned to improve its environmental standings, considering that national emissions are rising.