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Li Bingbing


"If you eat up forests today, the deserts will eat you up tomorrow." Top Chinese actress Li Bingbing recalls this phrase when asked about the importance of forests. "It's quite simple, but to the point," she says. And she has backed up her words with action.

Last year the award winning actress - a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador - created her own charity, Love Green, "to promote green ecosystems, the Green Economy, and green life". Its first project - which she launched with former British Premier, Tony Blair, and has been carried out in collaboration with the Climate Group - was to plant trees to combat desertification in northwestern China.

It is succeeding beyond expectations. "It took only nine months, instead of the planned two years, to plant the first million trees," she tells Our Planet.

She has been an environmentalist from an early age. "As a young girl, I would make a point of switching off the air conditioner when we left the house. As a teenager, I opted to walk or use public transport wherever possible and, ever since, I have separated my trash for recycling. I believe that if we all take our responsibilities towards the Earth seriously, and make caring for the planet part of our daily routine, we could make great strides towards preserving it for future generations. We need to start from every small change in our lives."

Born in Heilongjiang province, in the far northwestern China, in February 1973, Li Bingbing originally had no intention of becoming an actress, and instead enrolled in a school for prospective schoolteachers. But, after graduating, she became dissatisfied with that career, and was eventually persuaded by a friend to join the Shanghai Drama Institute in 1993. She won the first of many "best actress" awards at the 1999 Singapore Film Festival for her film debut, later winning similar titles in the 2005 Golden Rooster Awards, the 2007 Huabiao Awards, the 2008 Hundred Flowers Awards, and the 2009 Golden Horse Film Awards.

But forests remain an equally strong passion. "Every time I travel along the Yangtze River," she says, "I remember the summer of 1998 when for three months it was ravaged by severe flooding that washed away thirteen million homes and caused US$26 billion worth of damage. The floods showed how destructive nature can be in the absence of forests. Yet for decades we have been trying to harvest our economic gains at the cost of unsustainably exploiting our environment and the forests, its most valuable asset."

The Chinese Government took notice of the 1998 floods, she says, and set up a nationwide campaign to halt deforestation later the same year, with the result that over half of the country's natural forests are now protected.

"We have learned a lesson the hard way, that our forests support our modern way of life. Without them, nature can wreak havoc. With them, nature can protect us and enrich our ecosystems," she says.

"Forests provide us with so many services to sustain our lives. I have seen with my own eyes the beauty and strength of a healthy forest that provides the water we drink and protects us during the rainy seasons against landslides and flooding. And a healthy forest brings back wildlife."

She likes to quote Mahatma Gandhi, who famously stated: "Your beliefs become your thoughts; your thoughts become your words; your words become your actions; your actions become your habits; your habits become your values; your values become your destiny."

"We can change our planet's destiny one country at a time, one community at a time, one individual at a time, one action at a time. Everyone can influence those around them. This will have a positive and exponential effect and attract more and more people to join us,".

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