A UN worldwide tree planting campaign has now reached the 4 billion mark in its drive to plant 7 billion trees world wide.
The campaign is being undertaken to fight the effects of climate change; as well as to prevent soil erosion, one of the most common reasons for desertification in many parts of the world.
More than 169 countries will have taken part in the campaign, scheduled to finish by the end of 2009. Some countries near the Middle East that so far benefited the most form this campaign include Ethiopia, which received 687 million trees in 2008, Lebanon, Turkey (300 million trees), Pakistan (120,000 million trees pledged), and Turkministan (150 million trees pledged).
UN officials said that in addition to helping conserve soil and water, trees help control avalanches, prevent desertification (water is one of the foremost issues we cover on Green Prophet!), protect coastal areas from erosion, and stabilize sand dunes.
The trees also absorb carbon dioxide and store millions of “gigatonnes” of carbon emissions in their trunks. They are carbon sinks.
Additional forestation projects are also being planned, as a result of the Kyota Environmental Protocol, scheduled to end in 2012. The Kyoto Protocol in an international environmental treaty which was originally adopted for use in December, 1997, and by January 2009, 183 countries have ratified it.
The Kyoto Protocol establishes legally binding commitments for the reduction of four greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and sulfur hexafluoride; as well as two groups of gases hydro-fluorocarbons and per-fluorocarbons.
The treaty has been signed and ratified by all developed countries of the world – except the USA, which has signed the treaty but not ratified it.
Although not included as part the UN’s tree planting campaign, tree planting in northern Israel began soon after the 2006 war with Hizbullah forces in Lebanon, and thousands of small saplings were planted in areas ravaged during the 34 day war, especially in Biriya Forest, which was severely damaged by fire.
The saplings were planted in special ceremonies during Israel’s arbor day Tu Bishvat. More than 10 dunam of grass and forest land ( 2,600 acres) was scorched during war, including a large patch by the northern Galilee city of Kiryat Shimona.
Israel’s efforts to plant trees to fight the effects of desertification are well known, thanks to the work of the Jewish National Fund, and large forests have been successfully planted in sections of the country’s Negev arid and desert regions.