Danish farmers could be paid to plant hundreds of new forests

Several hundred new forests could be planted in Denmark after authorities received almost 400 applications from farmers interested in a grant for planting trees on their fields.

An autumnal forest scene in Denmark, one that could become available in more locations due to a scheme offering farmers a grant to plant trees.
An autumnal forest scene in Denmark, one that could become available in more locations due to a scheme offering farmers a grant to plant trees. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Agricultural Agency (Landbrugsstyrelsen) received 381 applications from farmers interested in the grant, the agency said in a statement.

There are several reasons why the Danish state wants to pay farmers to plant forests, Danish Agricultural Agency head of department Frank Josephsen Kargo said.

“Forestation has its place in major agendas being talked about in current times. It’s all about reducing nitrogen emissions into water environments,” Kargo said.

“It also contributes to reducing CO2 emissions because forests absorb CO2, as well as reducing seepage of pesticides and nitrogen at drinking water sources by planting forest around them,” he explained.

Money for the grants comes from an EU funding programme for rural regions, totalling 70 million kroner.

Farmers can apply for up to 28,000 kroner per hectare of land they want to convert to forest, depending on the type of forest which is planted.

The agency must now review the applications, with the funding to be distributed in the most beneficial way for the environment.

“We will get up to relatively large areas. If these applications come to pass, we think we’ll get around 2,000 hectares of forest,” Kargo said.

“That way it’ll actually be a lot of forest and have a good effect,” he added.

With 34 applications, more requests for the grants came from Vejle Municipality than any other local authority in Denmark.

The mid-sized Jutland town currently boasts two forests, Nørreskov and Sønderskov, close to its centre and has a rugged, hilly landscape atypical for Denmark due to its location at the mouth of Vejle Fjord.

READ ALSO: Eight great places to visit during autumn in Denmark

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‘We still have a chance’: Danish minister’s relief after Glasgow climate deal

Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen has expressed relief that a meaningful climate change deal was struck in Glasgow last night, after a last minute move by India and China nearly knocked it off course.

'We still have a chance': Danish minister's relief after Glasgow climate deal
Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen speaks at the announcement of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance in Glasgow on Tuesday. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

“For the first time ever, coal and fossil fuel subsidies have been mentioned. I’m very, very happy about that,” he told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper. “But I am also very disappointed that the stronger formulations were removed at the last minute.” 

Late on Saturday, the world’s countries agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact, after negotiations dragged on while governments haggled over phasing out coal. 

Denmark is one of the countries leading the phase out of fossil fuels, formally launching the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) with ten other countries and states at the Glasgow summit on Tuesday, announcing an end to oil exploration last December, and committing to phase out coal by 2030 back in 2017. 

Jørgensen conceded that the deal struck on Saturday was nowhere near far-reaching enough to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C, which scientists have estimated is critical to limiting the impacts of climate change, but he said the decision to hold another summit in Egypt next year meant that this goal could still be reached. 

“The big, good news is that we could have closed the door today. If we had followed the rules, we would only have had to update the climate plans in 2025, and the updates would only apply from 2030,” he said, adding that this would be too late. “Now we can fight on as early as next year. This is very rare under the auspices of the UN.” 

Limiting temperature rises to 1.5C was still possible, he said. 

“We have a chance. The framework is in place to make the right decisions. There was a risk that that framework would not be there.” 

Jørgensen said that he had come close to tears when India launched a last-minute bid to water down the language when it came to coal, putting the entire deal at risk. 

“It was all really about to fall to the ground,” he said. “The assessment was that either the Indians got that concession or there was no agreement.” 

Sebastian Mernild, a climate researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, said he was disappointed by the lack of binding targets and global deadlines in the plan, but said it was nonetheless “a step in the right direction”, particularly the requirement that signatories to the Paris Agreement must tighten their 2030 emissions reduction targets by the end of 2022.

“It’s good that this thing with fossil fuels has got in,” he added. “It’s a pity that you don’t have to phase them out, but only reduce.”

He said the test of whether the Glasgow meeting is a success or failure would not come until the various aspects of the plan are approved and implemented by members states.