Annual reduction in the forest area is an important factor greatly affecting the global climate. Forest is one of the most important ecosystems, a catalyst for a chain of environmental changes. Deforestation brings about floods and droughts, soil erosion, and many wild flora and fauna species are doomed to disappear without forests.
However, most people do not think about why they need to restore the forest. They feel worried about the forest fires when the smoke comes directly towards their city. In addition to fires, there are many other problems that few people are even aware of and know about, except for foresters.
For example, many people remember from childhood the saying that everyone must ‘plant a tree’ in life. But almost no one knows that due to the catastrophic extensive fires, severe drought and pest infestation, so many forests disappeared every year in Russia, that everyone needs to plant a thousand trees to compensate for the forest lost due to disasters.
Elena Gorokhova, director of the ‘green’ ECA Movement, shared her thoughts of the reforestation with EcoTour Expert.
- In your opinion, is it possible to attract volunteer tourists to the reforestation projects?
- Today, the forest regeneration is of importance for most countries in the world and requires as many people and organizations as possible to be involved in this process. Moreover, this task is so large-scale, continuous and painstaking that it needs not just new active volunteers, but, first of all, the people who really recognize the importance of the forest and the associated ecosystems for the existence and well-being of every living thing on our Earth today. In this sense, ecotourists are the best choice for volunteer forest restoration. Even people less advanced environmentally are happy to join tree planting projects, so I am sure that ecotourists will show zeal and joy while responding to our call.
- What age group is more interested in the forest restoration projects in Russia?
- Most often, these are people aged 30 and older. On the one hand, they are already well aware of the importance of tree planting, and on the other hand, they show high responsibility and self-discipline while planting trees.
- Where do you normally plant seedlings?
- Our organization plant trees on the forestry fund lands that are not leased or privately owned. Normally, these are specially protected natural areas (national parks, reserves). This allows the use of an integrated approach to the reforestation and carry it out more efficiently, as well as to protect the forest trees we planted from possible devastation caused by the owners - businesses or individuals - having private forest sites.
- Can you provide planting data - what area was recovered, how many seedlings were planted? How many trees can be planted at a time?
- We are interested in maximum survival of seedlings. Therefore, at a time (in one campaign) we plant no more than 20 thousand trees as we are active in arranging every planting campaign and do our work thoroughly. The attached infographics show the results of our efforts in 2019. It is worth mentioning, the project has been carried out for several years.
- How do you select trees for planting? Do you use special technologies for the selection of native seeds?
- At each site requiring the forest rehabilitation, we always plant native species of trees. We buy seedlings at local nurseries or in the neighbouring regions. The local forestry experts well aware of the authentic local flora advise us the necessary species of trees. After all, our main goal is to do our best to preserve the unique local types of forests. We purchase the planting material after it has undergone quality sorting and earthing of seeds. We do not make direct sowing. This requires the use of agricultural machinery and equipment and can be done by industry specialists only. Our volunteers plant several year-old seedlings or planting stock.
- Do you follow up the planted nurslings?
- Yes, the volunteers themselves usually do this of their own free will. However, in the very near future, we will launch two new initiatives under the project - tending of the young plants and monitoring. The first includes the tending of seedlings during the period when they are gaining strength (weed control and soil cultivation), the second requires the technological system for air monitoring the tree planting, which is currently being developed in cooperation with one of our partners.
- Tell us how your project was created?
- Our organization - the ECA Movement - was founded 10 years ago. At that time, we carried out the ‘More Oxygen!’ programme and had planted 10 million trees in 50 regions of Russia over 5 years. When the programme financing was over we started thinking how to support those guys in the regions who could not stop planting the trees and kept on doing this.
At that time, we came up with the Posadiles.ru web service, an online crowdfunding platform to collect money for reforestation. When transferring the money, the web-service users receive a nice certificate that they can give as a present to their friends or family members in honor of any holiday, the birth of a child or just to keep it as a souvenir. We differ from other similar projects as we hold the reforestation campaigns on our own. All reports on each tree planting campaign are published on website. Photos, videos and GPS-coordinates can be found on the website as well as the description of what trees were planted, where, when and by whom.
We want to give everyone a simple tool to improve the forest restoration and the global environmental situation in general.