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UN: More than a billion trees planted in 2007

More than one billion trees have been planted around the world in 2007, with Ethiopia and Mexico leading in the drive to combat climate change, a United Nations report said Wednesday.

The Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme (Unep) said the mass tree planting, inspired by Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai, will help mitigate effects of pollution and environmental deterioration.

“An initiative to catalyse the pledging and the planting of one billion trees has been achieved and indeed surpassed its mark. It is a further sign of the breathtaking momentum witnessed this year on the challenge for this generation — climate change,” Unep chief Achim Steiner said in a statement.

“Millions, if not billions, of people around this world want an end to pollution and environmental deterioration and have rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty to prove the point,” he added.

Unep said the total number of trees planted is still being collated, but developing countries top the list with more than 700-million and 217-million trees planted in Ethiopia and Mexico respectively.

Others include: Turkey 150-million, Kenya 100-million, Cuba 96,5-million, Rwanda 50-million, South Korea 43-million, Tunisia 21-million, Morocco 20-million, Burma 20-million and Brazil 16-million.

Maathai’s Green Belt Movement planted 4,7-million trees, double the number of trees it had initially pledged, according to Unep.

Experts says that trees help contain carbon that accumulates the heat-trapping gases blamed for climate change.

Although the figure could not be verified, it sends a powerful message ahead of the December 3 to 14 meeting in Bali of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, a panel charting the path for negotiating pollution cuts to be implemented after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol pledges run out.

“We called you to action almost exactly a year ago and you responded beyond our dreams,” said Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace prize for her campaign to plant tens of millions of trees to counter tree-loss and desertification in Africa.

“Now we must keep the pressure on and continue the good work for the planet,” Maathai said in the statement. — AFP

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