75 Pivotal Public Policies: China’s Grain For Green Program

Planting trees is increasingly fashionable among policymakers, not least as a way to counter the climate-changing effects of carbon entering the atmosphere.

The largest reforestation programme in the world is the Grain for Green program, established by China in 1999, which has transformed 28m hectares of cropland and barren scrubland back to forest.

An example of the payment for ecosystem services approach which is helping to tackle environmental issues in the country, this program’s goal was to prevent erosion and alleviate rural poverty while having a major impact on carbon dioxide reduction. The achievement is even more remarkable for having been initiated at a time when the latter was not considered a national priority in China.

More recently, the Trillion Trees Initiative set the goal of planting one trillion trees worldwide by 2030. Scientists at ETH-Zurich have calculated that the planet can support at least an additional 3.5m square miles of forests without any adverse impact on cities or agriculture. They also calculated that planting one trillion trees could eventually store over 200bn metric tonnes of carbon, the equivalent of around two-thirds of all the carbon emitted by humans in the past century.


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