France's forests are even creeping up on their major cities.
- Forests account for over 31 percent of France's land.
- While most of the world is losing woodland to farmland, France is gaining.
- France has both a public and private effort working on reforesting rural and urban areas.
Successful reforestation effort<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDA5MzI1MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjIyNzI2Mn0.B8hwbqoCWxpNmVWoWjVoH9W87wmYj45qn4m95GnHick/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=1177%2C246%2C53%2C1025&height=700" id="46a9b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="154d69df7cb2143729b637153666635f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The French start-up EcoTree, launched near Brest in 2016, buys forests all over France to restore them. Photo credit: FRED TANNEAU / AFP / Getty Images<p>Current estimates show that forests cover 31 percent of France. The country is ranked fourth, in terms of largest forests, within the European Union. It is only surpassed by Sweden, Finland, and Spain.</p><p>Due to a concentrated reforestation effort and decline in farming, the past 30 years has seen France's forested areas increase by 7 percent. This hasn't been resigned just to France either. During the 1990s, Europe initiated something called the Common Agricultural Policy, which ensured only productive areas would be used as cropland to prevent inefficient farming. Land that was lacking was turned back into forest. </p><p>Between 1990 and 2015, Europe's total forestland grew 90,000 square kilometers — about 35,000 square miles. There has been so much progress, in fact, that there are more trees and larger forests in the EU today than there were at the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/12/04/watch-how-europe-is-greener-now-than-100-years-ago/?" target="_blank">start of the 20th century.</a></p><p>France's success can be contributed to a collective effort of private individuals and public forestry initiatives working together. A majority of the forests are on private land. With a total of 16.4 million hectares and increasing every day, new French forests reclaim old agricultural and industrial wastelands to fuel their growth. </p><p>The trees and plants being planted will do well to keep up with carbon dioxide absorption demands and fight climate change. Already within the Baronnies Provençales natural park, people are beginning to see rare species, such as the black vulture, reemerge. </p><p>Still, the new forests aren't without their fair share of complex problems and challenges.</p>
Reforestation challenges<p>There are some 34,000 people who live inside the new Baronnies Provençales. Some of the inhabitants see the black pine as a pest, which sometimes grows on their pastureland. <a href="https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/07/18/why-frances-forests-are-getting-bigger" target="_blank"><em>The Economist</em> notes</a> that there was an initial backlash from local groups who were wary at the rapid pace at which the forest was being reclaimed. Audrey Matt, who is in charge of the park's forests, is on record saying, "The fact that forests are growing here can be problematic… It all depends which way round you look at it."</p><p>Many forests in France and Europe have become scarred with <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-france-forests/french-forests-scarred-as-heatwaves-bring-bark-beetle-infestation-idUKKCN1UE20S" target="_blank">the scourge of beetle infestation.</a> Also with the <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/alps-lake-heatwave" target="_self">risks of extended heatwaves,</a> these new forests are liable to burst into flames amid dry weather and turn into dangerous wildfires.</p><p>Yet, the benefits still outweigh many of the potential problems. Which is why France is also taking its reforestation efforts into the urban realm as well. </p>
Urban forests in Paris<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDA5NDYwNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzE0NTY2MH0.tF766-Tm1-zZ5-ZAXuwgcNeVvsYfeKTtAHfD7anYbeE/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=184%2C421%2C6%2C5&height=700" id="10017" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0057e5cdd03fc63ffe959bd7ea6aa252" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo credit: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT /AFP / Getty Images<p>Mayor Anne Hidalgo recently announced a new greenery plan for the city of Paris. One that's going to bring more forests right into the city itself.</p><p>The plan is to begin planting forests near many of <a href="https://www.citylab.com/environment/2019/06/paris-trees-famous-landmarks-garden-park-urban-forest-design/591835/" target="_blank">Paris's historic landmarks</a>, such as Hôtel de Ville (Paris's city hall) and the Opéra Garnier. <span>These groves will be placed in both busy and dormant pedestrian areas. Part beautification, part practical, the trees will alleviate intense heat during the increasingly sweltering summer months.</span></p><p>Paris is more susceptible than most places during a heatwave as it's considered an urban heat island. The mayor intends to counteract that with what she calls an "isle of coolness." </p><p>If all goes according to plan, 20,000 trees will be planted by 2020. The capstone of the goal is to cover half of the City of Light's acreage with trees by 2030. </p><p>Paris could have a potentially radical new look with the simple addition of all of this beautiful foliage. </p>
It is rare for them to form, nonetheless reach this size.
- Climbing instructor discovers a glacial "lake" high in the Alps.
- A glacial meltwater lake this size is usually a rare occurrence.
- French glaciologists are concerned that climate change could create more dangerous lakes like these in the future.
France’s heatwave lake<p>Europe was in one of the most intense heat waves in recent memory this June. When Mestre discovered the lake on June 28th, France set an all-time record high of 114.6 degrees in the southern Gallargues-le-Montueux region. Record temperatures in the Mont Blanc region topped out at 48.74 degrees. </p><p>The Mont Blanc mountains remain covered in snow and ice all year round. The lake that Mestre found was around 9,800 feet above sea level and is also usually covered in ice.</p><p>"Needless to say, the lake was a real surprise… It's located in the 3,400 to 3,500-meter (11,155 to 11,483-feet) area. You're supposed to find ice and snow at this altitude, not liquid water. Most of the time when we stay for a day at this altitude, the water in our water bottles starts freezing," Mestre <a href="https://www.iflscience.com/environment/a-lake-popped-up-unexpectedly-in-the-alps-thanks-to-last-months-heatwave/" target="_blank">told <em>IFL Science</em>. </a></p><p>Water above the Alp's 3,000 meter line is supposed to stay permanently frozen.</p><p>When speaking to the <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/new-lake-discovered-at-11000ft-in-alps-after-heatwave-hit-france-a4191961.html" target="_blank"><em>London Evening Standard</em>,</a> Mestre also remarked that:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I have seen similar events in the Andes or in the Rockies, but the ecosystem is a lot different there. Snow is permanent in the Alps above 3,000 meters — it's not supposed to melt. Of course, with the whole global warming deal, it does melt, but it doesn't get this big."</p><p>According to <em>National Geographic France</em> the lake was around 10 meters by 30 meters or (33 feet by 98.5 feet). The lake was holding a couple thousand cubic meters of meltwater.</p><p>While this may have been an initial surprise to Mr. Mestre, many French glaciologists are starting to see a concerning trend as a similar lake was discovered in the same place last year.</p>
French glaciologist concerns<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk3NzA1OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTEyNDMwN30.jbqE8-0hqg8seSEZI1WgGIBUifYypirxZrN13_4yIo4/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=114%2C270%2C232%2C1&height=700" id="f9cd2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3bbae5a55b7cbd65bc2751cb90aeefd9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo credit: JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT / GETTY IMAGES<p>Christian Vincent, a glaciologist at the Grenoble Glaciology Laboratory, believes that there is a direct link between the formation of this kind of pond and global warming. </p><p>Vincent remarks about a similar experience when a pond had formed over by the Rochemelon glacier in the Arc Valley, which sits on the French-Italian border. A lake had sprung up over a number of years, slowly gaining in size:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"At first it was a small pond formed in the 1960s, which grew without anyone perceiving its evolution. It was during a reconnaissance a few years ago that I realized that it contained 650,000 cubic meters of water and that it was threatening to overflow. An alert was then given and an artificial emptying operation had cleared the lake."</p><p>Vincent warns that we must be vigilant in tracking and understanding how these glacial "lakes" appear. While there is no immediate threat from the pond Mestre spotted, that doesn't preclude future problems from arising from this area or other ones like it. </p><p>"When the volume of these lakes becomes very important, it can become very dangerous if they overflow on the surface. This can threaten downstream structures and homes," says Vincent.</p>
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