Two Thousand Trees4Love Planted on Valentine's Day Sun, Feb 15, 2009

Over Two thousand indigenous trees were planted in Nairobi's Karura forest, yesterday, by over one thousand nature-lovers, in a bid to make this year's Valentine's Day one of the greenest in Kenya's history.

Nairobi, 14 February 2009 - Over Two thousand indigenous trees were planted in Nairobi's Karura forest, yesterday, by over one thousand nature-lovers, in a bid to make this year's Valentine's Day one of the greenest in Kenya's history.

Trees4Love is the title UNEP chose for its Valentine's Day campaign; encouraging people to give their loved ones, on that special day, something more than a flower, a tree.

One campaigner said, "While a flower withers away fairly soon, a tree is something that lasts; you nurture it and watch it grow. It is the ultimate symbol of everlasting love."

The total number of trees planted on Valentine's Day will now be registered under the umbrella of the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign.

Speaking to reporters, UNEP Deputy Executive Director, Angela Cropper, said, "The challenge for us is to reduce the gap between trees pledged and trees planted. We also have to reduce the gap between trees planted and those that survive."

Launched in 2006, the Billion Tree Campaign has catalyzed the planting of 2.6 billion trees around the world. In a call for further individual and collective action, UNEP has set a new goal of planting 7 billion trees - one per inhabitant of the planet - by the end of 2009.

The trees will help combat deforestation in Karura Forest; one of Nairobi's two carbon sinks. Ngong forest is the other.

The forests helps combat climate change by absorbing carbon emissions from the thriving Nairobi capital and its three million inhabitants. They are also important water catchment areas for the Nairobi river-basin. Karura has also been a traditional site of the Mabari ya Kihara indigenous people, who consider the forest sacred land.

In 2007, UNEP was given the green light to help reforest 110 hectares of land in Karura and Ngong forests. These vast expansions had suffered from increased deforestation due to unsustainable activities, including illegal urban development.

Among Participants at the Tree4Love event were representatives of Kenya's Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) community, brought together by the Kenya Red Cross. They contributed significantly to the event by preparing the ground for planting.

Also planting trees were private sector partners from the ABC Bank, the Standard Group, East African Portland Cement Company, together with students and professors from Egerton and Kenyatta Universities; non-governmental groups, including the Green Belt Movement, founded by Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Mathai and radio stations Kiss FM and Jambo FM and their fans.

Angela Cropper, UNEP Deputy Executive Director lead UNEP's staff members, who turned out in big numbers to take part in the planting, together with a significant number of women leaders from Africa; members of the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the environment.

For those not able to make it to the tree planting event, The Kenya Forest Service set up a "seedlings" collection point, in conjunction with Jumbo FM and Kiss FM, to encourage participants to plant trees in their neighborhoods.

 
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