UNEP tree-planting campaign takes root in East Africa

Hundreds of people from different walks of life - from young schoolchildren to army officials - are planting trees across East Africa in the latest activities to be registered under Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign (BTC) run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

As part of the event, which is the fourth installment of the annual Play for the Planet initiative,UNEP will plant over 1,000 trees in Mombasa, Kenya from 8-10 October. Organised by UNEP's Children and Youth programme (Tunza), the event seeks to demonstrate to young people how to protect and restore their environment, and this year will bring together over 300 young people for a weekend of beach-side sports and tree planting at a school for the physically disabled.

The young tree planters will also assist the Mombasa City Council in planting 500 seedlings along major roads as part of an effort to green the coastal city. UNEP is cooperating with the non-government organization, Mavuno Michezo, to coordinate the event.

Also on 8 October, the Greenbelt Movement, an organization founded by BTC patron, Wangari Maathai, will plant 100,000 trees in Kenya's Mau Forest complex. The forest is the most important source of water for human consumption in the Rift Valley and Western Kenya and serves as the water catchment area for the already receding Lake Naivasha.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Sudan, a UN-backed project to plant over 30,000 trees in the Darfur region is in full swing, and already 16,000 trees have been distributed. The trees will provide much needed shade for internally displaced peoples (IDPs) living in camps in El-Daein, Kass, Muhajeria and Graida. Children attending schools near the camps will also benefit from a greener learning environment. The schoolchildren and IDPs will not only participate in the tree-planting, they will also be responsible for the after-care of the seedlings.

Last year police from the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) also planted 52,000 trees alongside the local community which were added to the BTC roster.

UNEP's Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign is a worldwide tree planting initiative. Businesses, governments, organisations and individuals are encouraged to enter tree planting pledges on the BTC website. Since the campaign's inception in 2006, a total of 11.9 billion trees have been pledged, 10.3 billion of which have already been planted.


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