Global environmental challenges
Pakistanis set tree planting record: 1,800 each a day
Pakistan has apparently set a record for tree plantings, with volunteers planting about 1,800 mangroves each in a day in mud and temperatures of up to 37 Celsius, according to the WWF International conservation group.
Maybe such competitions will catch on if a new U.N. climate treaty due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December includes measures to combat deforestation. Trees soak up greenhouse gases as they grow and release them when they burn or rot.
According to a WWF statement, 300 volunteers planted 541,176 young mangroves without any mechanical equipment in the Indus River Delta, about 150 km south east of Karachi. That beat the previous Guinness World Record of 447,874 trees in a day held by India, it says.
“We hope that tree planting competitions will become as popular as cricket matches,” Richard Garstang, head of WWF Pakistan Wetlands Programme, said in the statement. Mangroves provide homes for creatures such as shrimps and lobsters and help protect coasts from tsunamis.
Planting mangroves is labour intensive (you can’t cheat by simply throwing thousands of seeds into the air or quickly jabbing a sapling into the ground). The picture above left shows a mangrove being planted in Indonesia earlier this year.
Tree plantings have taken off in recent years — Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai (right, with the spade) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, partly for leading a campaign that had planted 20 million trees in Africa.
At the time, 20 million sounded like a lot of trees.
In 2006, the U.N. Environment Programme launched a “billion tree campaign” for world plantings by the end of 2007. That goal was surpassed and has been raised to 7 billion by the end of 2009 . It says plantings of 6.3 billion trees have now been pledged (although no one goes round checking to see if they really get planted, or keep growing).
Deforestation still far outstrips growth of new trees in the tropics — about 20 percent of world greenhouse gases come from the loss of trees, mostly burnt to clear land for farming in places such as the Amazon or Congo basins.
So the world probably needs more 1,800-a-day planters.
And can anyone beat that number?
(Picture credits: Top: A worker plants a mangrove tree at a conservation garden in Jakarta to mark Earth Day — April 22, 2009. REUTERS/Dadang Tri. Right: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai plants a tree helped by the Rev. Timothy Njoya (L) after returning from Norway with her prize, Nairobi, Dec. 30, 2004. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti)