, NAIROBI, May 13 – A unique worldwide tree planting initiative, aimed at empowering citizens, corporations and even Presidents to embrace the climate change challenge, Tuesday set its target at planting seven billion trees.
The Billion Tree Campaign has in just 18 months witnessed the planting of two billion trees, double its original target.
The campaign, spearheaded by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), was unveiled in 2006 as one response to the climate change threat.
"When the Billion Tree Campaign was launched at the Climate Convention meeting in Nairobi in 2006, no one could have imagined that it could flower so fast and so far,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
“But it has given expression to not only the frustrations but also the hopes of millions of people around the world," he added.
The initiative under the patronage of Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai and Prince Albert II of Monaco has broken every target set with trees planted in close to 155 countries.
Steiner said the campaign had become a practical expression of private and public concern over global warming.
"In 2006 we wondered if a billion tree target was too ambitious but now we know it was not,” he said.
"The Billion Tree Campaign is UNEP’s call to the nearly 7 billion people sharing our planet today to take simple, positive steps to protect our climate,” said Steiner.
He said the campaign was a defining issue of our era that could only be tackled through individual and collective action.
World Agroforestry Centre Director General Dennis Garrity, noted that the Billion Tree Campaign had not only helped to mobilize millions of people to respond to the challenges of climate change but had also opened doors for the rural poor, to benefit from the valuable products and services the trees provide.