‘3m trees removed from national landscape’ in Trump era

Image copyright Reuters Image caption After all the hype about solar panels, wind turbines and electric cars, cities are still an important source of clean energy

Looking into your bathroom shed isn’t the greenest thing to do, but it may save you money.

More than 3m trees have been removed from the landscape in the US since 2013, US government figures show.

The figures are also likely to shed more light on the ecological benefits of cities, where pollution is often higher.

The Centre for Biological Diversity, a conservation group, has highlighted the issue.

It said the cuts were part of a “policy blitz” in which the federal government wants to push for a “free market model” that sees less regulation.

Here’s what the centre says about the issue.

Image copyright AFP Image caption The millions of trees taken out of the ground is part of the policy blitz

18 cities alone removed 1.5m trees

The Trump administration has pushed forward a number of extreme conservationist policies, including shrinking national monuments and sending the National Park Service back to a system that requires all of its decisions to be made through public review and comment.

The federal government’s on track to remove more than 3m trees from the national landscape in this president’s first term alone, nearly double the total removed in the previous four presidents. This includes seven city-level tree removals last year alone.

“Dealing with forest management is one of the last paradigms of a regulated economy. Trump wants to tear down our regulatory frameworks in this space. If you reduce investment in the ecosystem, then some of those processes can be cut back,” said Ben Scott, forest policy analyst at the centre.

Image copyright Flickr user In-situ Image caption Doing away with regulation and moving to a free market model could be bad for natural resources

55% reduction in urban forest in the past seven years

In total, cities have reduced the urban forest on their land by 55% since 2011.

It wasn’t all bad news, however: when the Centre for Biological Diversity did a home audit for Americans, it found 43% of trees on private lands were trimmed or removed in the past year.

Changes to local zoning regulations made possible through the private property right to bare land have cut nearly 15% of trees on the national park in 1984 from 2000 levels.

Image copyright Wikipedia Image caption Urbanisation is a global issue with an impact of 2.5 billion people on its route

Traffic congestion and air pollution

Massive urbanisation is a massive problem. Cities are projected to grow by more than 2.5 billion people over the next 20 years. That’s more than the population of the entire United States.

Whether in the form of roads or rapid expansion of city centres, more people is always good news for air pollution.

Most of the air pollution in US cities comes from the combustion of fossil fuels for power generation, heating and heating homes and the manufacture of synthetic materials such as tires.

The Centre for Biological Diversity says these emissions have declined in recent years thanks to strict regulation, but urban redevelopment would continue to undermine regulations.

Keep looking after your trees

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Cities need to make a concerted effort to keep soil, trees and other natural resources in check

“You want to have proper rules and regulations and build community. These are the things that will keep your soils, tree canopy and other natural resources in check,” Mr Scott said.

Turning a blind eye to trees, he said, could lead to congestion, fires and heat waves.

Changing policies is a long, hard battle, he added.

“We have lost 30% of our woodland in the last two decades. It’s hard to reverse these trends.”

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