India’s Rural Development Ministry has decided to tackle two problems at the same time: Youth unemployment’s and poor air quality. It has unveiled plans to hire youths, potentially up to 300,000, to plant 2 billion trees along the country’s highways.
“The length of National Highways in the country is one lakh kilometer [about 62,137 miles]. I have asked officials to come out with a plan to plant 200 crore [2 billion] trees along these stretches which in turn would create jobs for the unemployed on the one hand and protect the environment on the other,” said Shipping and Rural Development Minister Nitin Jairam Gadkari.
Not only would this provide jobs to a segment of the population that needs them, but the trees are also great at improving air quality. India has a big problem with air quality, as does much of Asia and the Middle-East.
A recent study found that tree leaves can capture a substantial amount of particulate pollution. The research was conducted in the UK, the scientists started by measuring how much air pollution go into a certain number of houses in Lancaster using dust monitoring devices and by wiping surfaces and then analyzing what was collected with magnetic remanence, a technique that provides information on concentrations of iron-bearing particles.
The team then places a screen of 30 young silver birch trees in wooden planters in front of the houses for 13 days. When analyzing what was found from the houses, the ones with the tree screens had 52-65% lower concentrations of metallic particles. A comparison of all dust monitoring data showed a 50% reduction in the houses with the trees in front.
Researchers confirmed that the hairy surfaces of the leaves trapped metallic particles with a scanning electron microscope.