Pakistan Sets Guinness World Record for Tree Planting
Nairobi, 28 July - Fresh from the victory of the T20 Cricket World Cup, Pakistan hit another high by setting a Guinness World Record for planting 541,176 trees in 24 hours. The young mangrove saplings were planted by 300 volunteers on 15 July without using any mechanical equipment in the vast wetlands of the Indus River Delta in Thatta District.
The tree-planting, which is part of Pakistan's pledge to plant 120 million trees in UNEP's Billion Tree Campaign, took place some 150 kilometers southeast of Karachi in a biodiversity sanctuary that was designated in 2002 by the government as the Wetland of International Importance.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: "The Billion Tree Campaign has been setting records since it was launched in 2006 as one avenue and conduit for global public concern over climate change".
The record-breaking event, organized by Pakistan's Ministry of the Environment, is also part of the country's activities marking this year as the National Year of Environmental Protection.
"Pakistan's Guinness World Record will contribute to our new goal of planting seven billion trees - one for everyone on the planet with a bit to spare - by the crucial UN climate convention meeting in less than 135 days. I am ever more confident that this record can be broken too and inspire governments to Seal the Deal in Copenhagen in December," Mr. Steiner added.
"Guinness World Records would like to congratulate the people of Pakistan on achieving this incredible record. It involved the hard work and good will of hundreds of people, and was done for a fantastic cause," said Damian Field, a spokesperson for the Guinness World Records.
Mangroves, which are being cut down in Pakistan and other countries for fodder, fuel and timber and are particularly useful in carbon sequestration. In addition to providing a breeding ground for fish and other wildlife, mangroves protect coastlines from erosion as well as tsunamis.
"We have seen from the Asian Tsunami that where there were mangrove forests, you had less damage," said Ibrahim Thiaw, Director of UNEP's Division of Environmental Policy Implementation.
Pakistan has been particularly active in increasing the national forest coverage and has set a target of one million hectares of new forests by 2015. To make this happen five mega-forestry projects have been launched in the country. In addition, 50 million saplings will also be planted during the monsoon period this year and 70 million were planted in Spring 2009.
The previous record for the most trees planted in a single day was held by India with 447,874 trees.
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 Billion Tree Campaign and register their commitments to plant on the campaign's website: www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign