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Tree Planting Campaign Hits Four Billion Mark

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From the UNEP Twitter campaign to tree-plantings on every continent , thousands of people around the world mobilize to put more trees on the planet

The Billion Tree Campaign has passed the four billion mark , in a crucial step towards its target of seven billion trees planted by the end of 2009

The milestone was reached following confirmation from the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture that an additional 687 million trees were planted in 2008 under the country's nationwide tree planting campaign - part of the one billion trees that were planted over the last 52 days.

The total has also been boosted by individual tree planting efforts by people around the world taking part in a global tree planting drive for World Environment Day , a hands-on way for communities to urge world leaders to "seal the deal" at the crucial UN climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.

The campaign hit the three billion mark less than two month ago , when the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forests announced that collective efforts by the Government , NGOs and civil society had led to the planting of over 300 million trees during 2008.

Other recent tree registrations to the Billion Tree Campaign include the China Green Foundation , which has confirmed that it has planted 181 million trees; Peru , with over 41 million trees planted through its National Tree Campaign of Afforestation and Reforestation; Romania with over 38 million trees planted through its "Millions of Trees Millions of People" national movement; the Armenia Tree Project , which has registered close to one million trees; and the Kenya Commercial Bank , which planted 200 ,000 trees in Kenya during its 2009 Community Day.

Plantings in 166 countries

To date , tree plantings have taken place in 166 countries around the world as part of the Billion Tree Campaign. The latest participants in the campaign include the Pakistan Ministry of Environment and Forests , which has pledged to have 120 million trees planted by the end of 2009. In addition , the Ministry plans to launch a 2.3 billion tree planting campaign with a target of increasing the country's forest cover by 1 per cent by 2015. The Government of Turkmenistan has also joined the campaign with a pledge to plant close to 1.5 million trees this year.

Twitter for Trees campaign gets 10 ,000 followers

UNEP has also mobilized action across the globe through the hugely successful Twitter for Trees campaign on www.twitter.com/UNEPandYou. The initiative was driven by a simple yet powerful idea: UNEP pledged to plant one tree for every follower who joined by World Environment Day on 5 June.

The campaign was a runaway success , with 10 ,300 people following the UNEPandYou page by World Environment Day weekend. UNEP will therefore plant 10 ,300 indigenous trees in several locations around the world as part of the Twitter for Trees tree-planting drive , which will feed into the Billion Tree Campaign. We will post information on the T4T tree-plantings shortly , with details on how to participate.

World Scout movement involved in the BTC

The World Organization of the Scouts Movement - which has 28 million Scouts , male and female , in 160 countries - also planted trees under the campaign as part of their World Environment Day activities on June 5 in several countries including Australia , Mexico and Brazil.

In line with its mandate to study and protect Nature , the World Organization of the Scouts Movement have pledged to plant at least 65 ,000 trees in Mexico , India , South Africa , Georgia , Lebanon , Malaysia , Hungary , the Philippines , Brazil and Australia.

UN Peacekeepers to plant trees

The United Nations Peacekeeping missions also joined the campaign on World Environment Day , planting trees with its field missions in East-Timor , Ivory Coast , Darfur , Lebanon , Haiti , Congo , Georgia , Liberia , and Western Sahara amongst others.

UNite to Combat Climate Change initiative

In a call to further global action , UNEP is inviting everyone from civil society to the business community to Governments to plant trees as part of the UNite to Combat Climate Change initiative , and to register their commitments to plant on the campaign's website: www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign

About the Billion Tree Campaign

Under the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign , people are encouraged to enter tree planting commitments online with the objective of planting at least seven billion trees worldwide by December 2009 - one for every person on the planet.

Roll of Honour: Top 10 tree-planting countries

Ethiopia 1.4 Billion
Turkey 707 Million
Mexico 537 Million
People's Republic of China 236 Million
Kenya 143 Million
Cuba 137 Million
Indonesia 100 Million
India 88 Million
Republic of Korea 50 Million
Rwanda 50 Million

Trees help conserve soil and water , control avalanches , prevent desertification , protect coastal areas and stabilize sand dunes. They also house up to 90 percent of known terrestrial species. In addition they absorb carbon dioxide and store nearly 300 Gigatonnes of carbon in their biomass alone.

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Copyright, United Nations, UNRIC, 2009. All rights reserved.