On December 9, 2021, the EU Commission, together with the European Environment Agency (EEA), are publishing a data tool – MapMyTree – for all organisations to join the pledge of planting three billion additional trees by 2030, register and map their planted trees to count the EU target. As part of the European Green Deal, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 commits to planting at least 3 billion additional trees in the EU by 2030Search for available translations of the preceding link•••, in full respect of ecological principles. This would increase the EU forest area and resilience, enhance biodiversity, and help with climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Launching the counting initiative, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: Our promise to plant 3 billion additional trees is all about planting the right trees, in the right place, for the right purpose. It is one part of our efforts to fight climate change and stop biodiversity loss. We now have a map, and a new counter to check the progress. Associations, NGOs and cities can all report their trees. Three billion is a big number – but together we can make it a reality!
EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said: Forests will play a key role in Europe’s efforts in nature restoration and climate change mitigation and adaptation. With the MapMyTree tool, the EEA uses its core expertise in environment and climate data to help monitor progress towards the EU’s 3 billion tree pledge.
Forests are a key part of the solution to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. The pledge of 3 billion trees will be carried out with a long-term planning and monitoring scheme ensuring that the trees are planted, and allowed to grow over time. Only trees that benefit biodiversity and the climate, and that are additional, can be registered on the platform.
Organisations using the platform must sign a declaration of honour requiring that the data they provide is correct and that they respect the principles of the initiative. The Commission’s role will be to facilitate, motivate, count and monitor the progress. In spring 2022, the platform will open to everyone, so every new tree that fulfils the requirements can be counted.
In the EU, it is estimated that almost 300 million trees have grown each year between 2010 and 2015. The aim is to double these numbers so that we reach 600 million trees grown per year.
The planting and growing of the trees has to be done in full respect of ecological principles, in agroforestry and urban areas. The pledge of 3 billion trees will be carried out with an adequate long-term planning and monitoring scheme ensuring that the trees are not only planted, but are also allowed to grow over time. The Commission’s role will be to facilitate, motivate, count and monitor the progress.
According to the latest data, published on the Forest Information System for Europe (FISE), forests and other wooded land cover about 40% of the EU’s land space. However, European forests are under increasing pressure. There has been a drastic increase in the amount of clear-cut harvested forest area, leading to a negative effect on biodiversity and carbon sinks. In addition, only 16% of EU forest habitats covered by the EU Nature directives have a favourable conservation status according to the latest EEA’s State of Nature Report.
The EU Forest StrategySearch for available translations of the preceding link••• sets a vision and concrete actions to improve the quantity and quality of EU forests and strengthen their protection, restoration and resilience. It aims to adapt Europe’s forests to the new conditions, weather extremes and high uncertainty brought about by climate change. This is a precondition for forests to continue delivering their socio-economic functions, and to ensure vibrant rural areas with thriving populations.