Friday, November 30, 2007

Planting 79 million trees in one day

The UN climate change conference will take place next month in Bali, Indonesia. In the meantime, Indonesia, which has been losing its forests at a rapid pace in recent years, launched a campaign to plant 79 million trees in one single day - November 28.

Reuters reported that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (in the picture) was quoted by state news agency Antara as saying "we have been negligent in the past, now we have to get our act together," as he planted saplings on the outskirts of Jakarta on that day.

And President Yudhoyono knows what he is talking about - according to Greenpeace, Indonesia had the fastest pace of deforestation in the world between 2000-2005, with an area of forest equivalent to 300 soccer pitches destroyed every hour. One reason for these unbelievable rates of deforestation are the rapidly expanding palm oil plantations, partly driven by ambitious plans for biofuels.

Deforestation (and also the forest fires) also one of the main reasons that Indonesia is also among the world's top three greenhouse gas emitters, together with the US and China.

Back to the planting operation - the Indonesian forestry ministry officials said 79 million saplings were collected from local governments around the archipelago and they were planning to complete the planting in one day.

The planting campaign was part of a United Nations global campaign to plant one billion trees - the Billion Tree campaign, which was launched by Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai last November (the campaign, by the way, also featured us on their website—( These efforts are due to the fact that deforestation accounts for around 20 percent of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, the main driver of global warming.

I don't know yet if the Indonesians succeeded in their goal and planted 79 million trees, but in any case it's an importnat step in the right direction. Even more important is to significantly decrease the rapid rate of deforestation in this country, and this is the main test for Indonesia's will to go green.

One-time planting won't do the job unless a consistent policy of handling illegal loggers and foreign companies that look for quick profits out of Indonesia's natural capital will take place, and the sooner the better.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

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