What should we do? Plant a tree! By Adriana Alarcon
In 2019, I had the most incredible experience as I attended the 24th World Scout Jamboree, an event with over 40 000 scouts and leaders from 152 nations meeting and camping together in one place. Nevertheless, this enormous reunion made me think about each person and their unique journey to get to the campsite, the number of hours spent on different transportations, and the miles traveled. I got especially concerned about carbon emissions produced by it; I got troubled by the effect on our atmosphere and environment.
Then and there, I outlined the carbon emission problem and started thinking about clear and tangible actions to mitigate it.
So, is there something each person can do locally and without much effort?
Yes, plant a tree! One of the more effective and beneficial ways to reduce our carbon footprint and give back to the planet is planting trees. With some friends' help, we started a campaign to inspire and motivate people into action to counter the issue and, in the meanwhile, collect funds for our then idea, 'The Churumazu Project.'
'The Churumazu Project' was an initiative that contributed to reducing carbon footprint as we took part in the restoration and reforestation of the Peruvian Amazon in a specific area in Oxapampa Province. We successfully collaborated with the 'Private Conservation Area - Churumazú Forest' and achieved a plantation of 1000 tree seedlings with a care plan and assurance for their self-sustainability. So, let's acknowledge that nature can regenerate, and we surely can help the process. We should never forget the role that nature can play; tree planting offers a simple, accessible, low-tech idea for a future livelihood source. A tree seeding is not more expensive than $1.50, and even though the types of trees and seedlings planted should be locally adapted, all you need to plant one are your hands, water, soil, and care.
Photo Credit Adriana Alarcon
Planting trees is a nature-based solution that benefits ecosystems and people. In the long term, it ought to be seen as creating viable assets for the communities, regardless of whether you live in a rural or an urban area. Emphasis needs to be laid not only on planting trees as one easy contribution but also on the growth and sustainability of trees. For example, if we plant fruit trees, they will provide an ongoing supply of food. Meanwhile, native trees can be left to grow and soon replenish the watershed and prevent erosion. Other trees can grow and work as powerhouses that filter air pollution, provide shade, and help with the heat in cities far hotter than surrounding rural areas.
Despite this, supporting tree planting is not a free pass for polluters to not reduce their emissions. We need to stop funding things that negatively impact our planet and start regarding actions to reduce carbon footprint related to transport, food, energy use in the home, water use, and waste management.
One of 'The Churumazu Project' goals was to position young people as agents of change in climate issues— giving our project as an example of carbon emissions decrease. I'm convinced that young people are getting inspired and are a lot more conscious of their impact on Earth. Either by creating free, nutritious compost for gardens and houseplants or making massive reforestation in a natural reserve, we are all reducing the effects of our carbon footprints. Tree planting may be our first move, but sure won't be our last.
About the author:
Adriana Alarcon is a 22-year-old Scout Youth Representative from Peru. She is a sociology student drawn to environmental management and social development projects.