Mexico planted 250 million trees in 2007: Calderon

By MP News Staff

Felipe CalderonMEXICO CITY (AFP) — President Felipe Calderon on Sunday said Mexico in 2007 planted nearly 250 million trees, one fourth of the world total the UN Environment Program (UNEP) had set to combat climate change.

“We’re reaching the goal we set for ourselves that seemed so difficult to reach, of planting 250 million trees in Mexico,” Calderon told reporters as he planted a pine tree in the grounds of his official Los Pinos home in Mexico City.

Calderon, who in February joined the UNEP’s tree-planting initiative, said his government invested 540 million dollars in the reforestation program.

“We used public funds to pay forest and jungle dwellers, most of them from indigenous communities and among the poorest people in Mexico,” to plant trees, said the president, who has made sustainable development one of his top priorities.

Mexico’s prodigious effort, however, was criticized by Greenpeace in Mexico spokeswoman Cecilia Navarro, who told reporters the reforestation program was carried out “helter skelter.”

The trees, she said, “are being planted anywhere,” not necessarily where they are appropriate and not necessarily near communities tasked with monitoring their growth.

The reforestation program, she added, does not offset rampant deforestation in Mexico, where “each year we lose at least 600,000 hectares (1.48 million acres) of forest,” the fifth-fastest deforestation rate in the world.

UNEP in November announced its year-long, worldwide reforestation program was a success, with 1.4 billion trees planted and Ethiopia (700 million), Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, Cuba, Rwanda, South Korea, Tunisia, Morocco and Myanmar the top 10 planters.