India ranked ninth in world tree planting
India has been ranked ninth in the tree planting roll of honour in a campaign to plant a billion trees, which was launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in November 2006.
The country has registered 96 million trees.
Under this plan, civil society and governments are asked to register the number of trees that have been planted in their respective countries. So far, 167 countries have participated in this programme.
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Image: Schoolchildren plant trees during 'one day one lakh plantation programme' on outskirts of Hyderabad
Billionth tree was an olive planted in Ethiopia
The initial target set by the UNEP was to plant at least one billion trees worldwide each year. The billionth tree was an olive planted in Ethiopia in November 2007.
After the campaign hit the two billion mark in May 2008, the UNEP decided to set a new goal of seven billion trees, which is one for every person on the planet. The four billion mark was reached in May 2009.
India, however, could be much higher in the ranking, according to UNEP officials who say that the country does not formally register or report all its campaigns.
Image: Environmental activists hold a tree as a sign of protecting it. The activists tied ribbons and embraced trees in a campaign to protest the government's plan to cut trees as a part of its city beautification plan
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
Tree planting major component of climate change dialogue
"India could have planted a billion of trees already this year," Satinder Bindra, director of communications at UNEP, told PTI.
"It would be fantastic if those trees were also registered with the campaign."
Tree planting has become a major component of the climate change dialogue since the sink of carbon sequestration in forests helps to offset carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
India has suggested that nations should commit to afforestation obligations in the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change, which is expected to yield a new climate treaty since the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Image: People take a nap under the shadows of trees during a hot day in Siliguri
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
'Stop Talking Start Planting'
In recent talks ahead of the Climate Change Summit at the UN, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has stressed the importance of reaching a consensus on afforestation.
To make up for the loss of trees in the past decade, according to the UNEP, almost 130 million hectares of land has to be planted, an area as large as Peru.
Covering the equivalent of 130 million hectares would entail planting approximately 14 billion trees every year for 10 consecutive years.
This would require each person to plant and care for at least two seedlings a year.
A new campaign called "Stop Talking Start Planting" under the UN banner will soon be underway.
"Tree planting empowers ordinary people to show that they can do something," Bindra added.
Image: A man walks through Kashmir University's Naseem Bagh or the garden of breezes during an autumn day in Srinagar
Photographs: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters