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28th Nov 2013

Globally, there is at least one‑third less forest cover than there once was. It is time to reverse the trends, it is time to act.

Sustainably managing ancient and old-growth forests and avoiding deforestation must be our watchwords. Old growth and pristine forests are the natural world’s equivalents of the great edifices, sculptures and old masters of the human world. It is also in our wider
Interests to restore reforest and recapture the lost and degraded forest and woodland ecosystems that have, all too often, fallen victim to short-term and narrow economic interests.

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its flexible mechanisms, such as the Clean Development Mechanism, provide formal, legally‑binding ways of achieving some of the wider forest and climate related goals. UNEP supports them fully. Voluntary initiatives can also offer an important focus for our mutual benefit and broader environmental, economic
and social concerns, as well as ways of ensuring that a decisive victory in the fight against climate change is achieved in the coming years.

The Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign is an engine for voluntary expressions of solidarity. It is inclusive and open to everyone, from governments and businesses to community groups and individuals.

The Billion Tree Campaign is a mere acorn, but it can provide a significant and straightforward expression of our common determination to make a tangible difference in developing and developed countries alike.

Climate change confronts us now. There is no longer conjecture or debate around an abstract or hypothetical future. We need action. We need to plant trees and in so doing send a signal to the corridors of political power across the globe that the watching and waiting is over, that countering climate change can take root via one billion
small but significant acts in our gardens, parks, countryside and rural areas

Towards the Tree Age
With the exception of a very few reptiles, trees are the only living organisms with a lifespan greater than that of humans. They are unique inter‑generational gifts to pass on to our descendants. Indeed, the oldest living tree has spanned more than 150 human

The Billion Tree Campaign is part of humanity’s collective gift to subsequent generations. It is a superb initiative to link people, trees and the environment. Understanding, testing and promoting the right trees for the right places is a science.

Developing and applying this knowledge in the rural landscapes of the tropics is the mission of the World Agroforestry Centre. Planting trees is a key step, although ensuring their survival and sustainable management is even more important. We pledge to help accelerate the planting of trees for both valuable products (e.g., fruit, timber,
medicine, fodder, oil) and beneficial services (e.g., watershed protection, biodiversity, erosion control, soil improvement, climate

Some 500 million smallholder farmers in the tropics stand to benefit tremendously from the greater recognition, appreciation and promotion of the right trees in the right places so that such trees may transform both lives and landscapes. It is simply thrilling that so many individuals, organizations and governments from around the world have responded with such vigorous commitment. Humans have evolved through the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Perhaps we are now entering the Tree Age!

Gifts of the Trees
Depending on the location and size of its trees, one hectare of forest can absorb approximately six tons of carbon dioxide a year. In addition to climate change mitigation, trees offer myriad rewards.

type, one mature tree can release enough oxygen for a family of four.
Biodiversity: The vast majority of land animals and plants live in forests. Although tropical rainforests cover only about 5 per cent of
the land on Earth, they are host to around half of the world’s animal
and plant species. Experts estimate that if deforestation continues
at the present rate, millions of plant and animal species will be lost forever by 2050.

Cultural icons: Trees symbolize human aspirations, continuity between the generations, a link between Earth and heaven. In many traditions, they are believed to shelter spirits and the souls of ancestors. Many peoples plant trees to mark births and deaths.

Psychology: While it may seem obvious, the restorative power of trees is only now being studied scientifically. Recent research confirms that playing outdoors measurably increases a child’s health and attention span. People who can see a tree from their workplace demonstrate higher productivity than those who cannot.

Soil and fresh water: More than two billion people (nearly a third of humanity) rely on wooded areas to protect their water. In places where webs of tree roots bind the soil and a canopy of leaves breaks
downpours of rain into gentle A showers, rain percolates through the
soil into underground aquifers and feeds streams and rivers.

Deforested regions, however, can lose as much as 90 per cent of their rainwater since, instead of seeping into the ground; it surges directly towards the ocean. Torrents of rainwater erode tons of topsoil, carving out gullies and sometimes washing away settlements and farms.

“The symbolism – and the substantive significance – of planting a tree has universal power in every culture and every society on Earth, and it is a way for individual men, women and children to participate in creating solutions for the environmental crisis.”

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