The first real test of the billion-tonne “Tree Project” project that has been set to start next year on Germany’s German-French border could take place next year, with scientists and politicians preparing for the biggest tree-growing experiment in Europe.
A key goal is to grow more than 1.2 billion trees in the area to feed the millions of people in the European Union who are hungry for food.
The first test of “TreeProject” has been scheduled to begin on Monday, with German government scientists and environmental officials set to launch the project on Sunday.
Germany has long touted its tree-looting ability, but the “Tree project” aims to demonstrate its success by harvesting trees in Germany, France and Belgium for their roots and planting them into agricultural plots.
More than 100,000 trees were planted last year.
“It’s going to be a huge, huge leap forward in the way we grow plants, and we will be able to use more of them,” environmental and public health minister Hans-Joachim Herrmann told a news conference.
“We need to make sure the soil we have is really well protected and that there is adequate monitoring of the environmental impact,” he said.
“The soil is not only our soil, but it is also our most important asset and the soil is going to have to be treated.”
A tree growing in the forest near Bonn.
The Forest Protection Agency estimates the project would generate €300 million ($333 million) a year in the first two years, while the EU is looking at an estimated €1.2 trillion ($1.7 trillion) worth of crop damage.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised to build a million new houses to cater for the population and said the project could save the EU more than €100 billion ($130 billion) annually.
“I think we will have a billion trees,” Herrman said.
“And we will build more houses than the Germans do.
This is a great thing.”
Germany has set ambitious targets for the region’s forests and forests need to be planted and cared for to produce food for a population expected to grow by a third by 2050.
The government says more than two-thirds of trees planted in the German-speaking world will have been grown in the last 20 years, with the rest to be replanted in the next 20 years.
Some of the biggest trees planted include the German pine, a massive 3,000-year-old tree in the heart of the German town of Münster, and the Swiss pine, the world’s tallest tree at 5,000 feet (1,650 metres) tall.
The tree project would also grow more pine trees in Austria, Spain and Italy, while in Germany some 3,500 trees would be planted, the Forestry Agency said.
Environmentalists in Germany are pushing for the tree-taring to be limited to the borders of the EU and to ensure the project is done in a way that will not harm the forests.
They also want the forest to be managed for the long term, saying that if the project does not work out, the EU will have to impose stricter restrictions on the forest in the future.