How To Planet 10,000 Trees in One Day


During UNEP's World Environment Day activities, schoolchildren hold saplings at Umuganda, the monthly day of community service, in Rwanda on June 4, 2010. Ten thousand trees were planted. Photo by Meaghan O'Neill.

In the animated film Wall-E, there's a pivotal scene where the eponymous trash-robot hero presents a delicate plant, potted in an old boot, to his new friend and future soul mate, Eva. The small plant, healthy yet so vulnerable, represents both the resilience and fragility of life on Earth. A tiny sapling I saw planted last week during Umuganda, the monthly day of community service in Rwanda, reminded me of that scene.

Worldwide, 70,000 trees were planted on World Environment Day this year, according to UNEP -- 10,000 of them in Rwanda during this event on the outskirts of the capital city of Kigali. I was there (my trip was sponsored by UNEP) along with hundreds of schoolchildren, business people, soldiers, and many, many others, all of whom grabbed a hoe, carried a sapling, and took responsibility for ensuring the future health and biodiversity of the Nyandungu wetlands, and with them, symbolically, life on this planet.

From the inside, I'll admit, the planting felt somewhat haphazard (I never did find out what kind of trees we were planting, though I was assured they were indigenous), but at the end of the morning, when I looked back at the tiny trees scattered throughout the valley, I realized what we'd accomplished.

"Ten Thousand Trees, One Day," is how my traveling companion (and UNEP WED blog contest winner) Tuesday Phillips succinctly put it in the headline of her blog post about the experience. To date, UNEP's Billion Tree campaign has planted more than 10 billion trees planet-wide.

The UN has declared 2010 the International Year of Diversity, and, as such, the theme for World Environment Day this year followed suit, with the tagline "Many Species. One Planet. One Future."

Tags: Africa | Rwanda | World Environment Day

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