China is mobilising 60,000 soldiers to plant 6.6 million hectares of new trees this year.
To put it in perspective, that’s roughly the size of Ireland.
The People’s Liberation Army is reportedly reassigning the soldiers as it aims to increase the country’s total forest coverage from 21% to 23%.
They are being dispatched from the northern borders to plants millions of trees in Hebei, a province which surrounds the capital Beijing, Asia Times reports.
The area is heavily polluted and is a major reason behind the city’s infamous smog.
Zhang Jianlong, head of the State Forestry Administration, said 33.8 million hectares of forest had been planted nationwide over the last five years.
This brings its total investment up to more than 538 billion yuan (£60 billion).
A new Xiongan development zone in Hebei province will become home to three state forests, covering a total area of 483,000 hectares.
The government is currently promoting an ‘ecological red line’ to restrict ‘irrational development’ and curb construction near rivers, forests and national parks.
China is tasked with feeding a fifth of the world’s population using just 7 percent of the world’s arable land.
It has long struggled to strike a balance between industrial growth, maximizing food production and protecting its environment.