Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New goal for UNEP: Seven billion trees by the end of 2009

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced yesterday that its Billion Tree Campaign to Grow into the Seven Billion Tree Campaign.

This is great news. The Billion Tree Campaign was initiated in 2006 and in just 18 months catalyzed the planting of two billion trees, double its original target (as of today, the exact number of trees planted is 2,074,829,162).

The campaign was unveiled in 2006 as one response to the threat of global warming. The idea was inspired by Professor Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 2004 and founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, which has planted more than 30 million trees in 12 African countries since 1977.

Why planting trees? UNEP explain the logic: "safeguarding and planting forests were among the most cost-effective ways to slow climate change, blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel on emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels in factories, power plants and cars. Trees soak up carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when burnt or when they rot. Deforestation accounts for over 20 percent of the carbon dioxide humans generate. The advantages of planting trees are well known, as well as to the wider sustainability challenges from water supplies to biodiversity loss." ('World tree planting drive sets goal of 7 billion', Reuters, 5.13.08).

UNEP were surprised with the overwhelming response of governments, businesses, organizations and people to the challenge and decided it's time to raise the bar. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, told Reuters: "In 2006 we wondered if a billion tree target was too ambitious; it was not. The goal of two billion trees has also proven to be an underestimate. The goal of planting seven billion trees, equivalent to just over a tree per person alive on the planet, must therefore also be do-able."

We truly hope that he is right. We also believe in the need to conserve natural resources and in the plenty of benefits that trees provide us with (btw - check out tomorrow's blog with a new research on the value of reforestation efforts in the fight against global warming).

Eco-Libris see itself as part of the campaign's global effort (we were featured in the past on UNEP's Billion Tree Campaign website - and we will do our best to plant as much trees as possible with our planting partners, contributing both to the planet and to making reading more sustainable.

Raz @ Eco-Libris