Deforestation is one of the greatest challenges facing mankind this century. From soil erosion and flooding to destruction of biodiversity,the clearing of forests, the lungs of the planet is an issue that is going to affect us all. With regard to just rainforest biodiversity it is estimated that we are losing 137 plants, animal and insect species each day due to rainforest deforestation, which equates to a stunning 50,000 species a year.
Many individuals and org’s have decided that they are not going to allow this to go unchallenged. Whether it is Disney’s recent announcement that they are going to invest $3.5mn dollars in carbon credits to protect Peru’s rainforest or the local school planting trees in their neighbourhood. People are making a difference.
These 3 programmes are just a small overview of the contribution that ordinary people are making to greening the planet for all our benefit.
United Nations Billion Tree Campaign.
Professor Wangari Maathai’s response to being told that a million Tree’s had been planted by an American Corporation was to praise their effort but point out that the planet needed a billion Trees to be planted. Not being a man to wait for others to act he started organizing and building the billion Tree campaign in 2006. Its initial target was to have one billion Trees planted by December 2009, it easily surpassed even that ambitious target and hit 7 billion that year. The campaign was founded by a man of vision but is now run by a boy of vision. Felix Finkbeiner, just 14 years of age, decided that it was time to “stop talking, start planting” (1) and started to a build a Teenage tree planting programme that now encompasses children from 100 countries and now runs the United Nations Billion Tree campaign. A man and a child, both visionaries that were not going to allow any problem stand in the way of their vision for a better world.
Trees for the Holy Land.
In the Jewish faith trees hold a special place. To plant a Tree, especially in Israel has patriotic and spiritual connotations. The noted Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakai made a point of noting that if the Messiah returned to earth and you were planting a Tree that you should
While this effort has mostly been driven at a State level, it has also been helped by local forestry initiatives like Trees for the Holy Land, who plant native Pines, Olives and Cypresses among other trees in Israel. This reafforestation proggrame has seen rare wildlife return in great numbers to Israel, with Deer, Quail and Squirrels once more inhabiting the formerly barren deserts. Photo by DEWI. Creative Commons Licence.
The Green Belt Movement.
The Green belt movement is about teaching African communities about the benefits of Trees and forestry to their local communiuties. It is about empowering local villages to make a difference in their own lives by protecting their soil from erosion, preventing droughts caused by damaged watersheds and making local forests part of sustainable businesses. 5 mountains in Kenya provide most of the water for their country and deforestation on the hills can result in towns hundreds of kilometres away having irregular water supplies. Since 1977 the Green Belt Movement have planted 51 million tree’s on the mountains of Kenya.(4)
These initiative for tree planting have all been driven by individuals with a vision and carried out mostly by volunteers that set each tree one at a time. That made a small individual difference that added up in to something that became truly transformative. Even one person can make a difference.