18 January 2007 In an effort to help mitigate global warming, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today made a new appeal to the international community to plant a billion trees around the world this year as part of a project to save the planet.
Under the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign, individuals, children, youth and community groups, schools, non-governmental organizations, business and industry, farmers, local authorities, and national governments are urged to plant trees as a small but practical step to combat what UNEP says is probably the key challenge of the 21st century. So far over 157 million tree planting pledges have been received.
Today’s appeal, issued in Paris where several French partners pledged support, was the second since the campaign was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in November. “Action does not need to be confined to the corridors of the negotiation halls,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said at the time.
The campaign, inspired by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Green Belt Movement activist Wangari Maathai and backed by Prince Albert II of Monaco and the World Agroforestry Centre-ICRAF, is being coordinated by UNEP.
Rehabilitating tens of millions of hectares of degraded land and reforesting the Earth is necessary to restore the productivity of soil and water resources, and expanding tree cover will mitigate the build-up of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a global warming greenhouse gas.
To make up for the loss of trees in the past decade, 130 million hectares, or 1.3 million square kilometres, an area as large as Peru, would have to be reforested, amounting to planting some 14 billion trees every year for 10 consecutive years, UNEP says.
“The Billion Tree Campaign is but an acorn, but it can also be practically and symbolically a significant expression of our common determination to make a difference in developing and developed countries alike,” Mr. Steiner noted. “We have but a short time to avert serious climate change. We need action.”
Pledges can be entered on the web site www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign. Each pledge can be anything from a single tree to 10 million trees.
The campaign identifies four key areas for planting: degraded natural forests and wilderness areas; farms and rural landscapes; sustainably managed plantations; and urban environments, but it can also begin with a single tree in a back garden. Advice on tree planting will be made available via the website.