Rooting out poverty with the E-Tree Programme in China

The third phase of the China E-Tree Programme, a web-based platform to mobilize resources and public participation for tree planting, was launched today at a ceremony in Beijing to commemorate the UN International Year of the Forests and in celebration of China’s Arbor Day tomorrow.

The E-Tree programme is a multi-partnership initiative involving government agencies, the private sector, media and civil society in tree planting activities in western China, which has a fragile environment and large poor population. Donations collected online will be sent to the poor farmers living in the drought-hit areas of western China as a means of combating desertification and alleviating the poverty.

Launched in 2009 by UNEP in collaboration with the China Green Foundation and Fujian Southeast TV, the China E-Tree programme has helped more than 16,000 impoverished families in western China and has resulted in the planting of nearly 10 million Sea-buckthorn trees covering an area of more than 5,000 hectares.

The 3rd China E-Tree Progamme was co-organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the China Green Foundation, Fujian Southeastern TV and Senior officials, including Zhang Siqin, former Vice-Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference , Zhu Lieke, Vice Minister of China’s State Forestry Administration, Wang Zhibao, Chairman of the China Green Foundation, as well as Chinese celebrities and media participated in the launching ceremony. Also present at the launch was Zhang Shigang, representative of the UNEP China Office, who delivered the opening speech during the event.

The China E-Tree Progamme has important social influence. With the form of E-Tree, it builds an open and convenient platform for nearly 5 million citizens to make donations for tree-planting, broadens the channels for the public to volunteer in tree-planting, creates a new model to plant trees and make China greener, and welcomes a new era of public forestation,” said Zhu Lieke, Vice Minister of State Forestry Administration.

The China E-Tree Progamme has attracted millions of Chinese citizens as well as numerous enterprises and international organizations. Fundraising online alone has exceeded US$750,000.

“The E-Tree Programme has made important contributions to the ecology and poverty alleviation campaign in western China,” said Dr. Young-Woo Park, Regional Director, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. “Trees and forests play a vital role in our lives, in our economies. They bring many benefits - ecological, economic, and social and health. They regulate our waters and act as a defense against floods. UNEP is happy to participate in this E-Tree initiative to celebrate this year’s UN International Year of the Forests.”

At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in November 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya, UNEP and the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) co-launched the Billion Tree Campaign, encouraging individuals, communities, enterprises, business circles, NGOs and governments to make online tree-planting promises, in order to showcase the public attitude to challenge climate change and forest and ecosystem degradation.

With the same objective, the China E-Tree Progamme focuses on the public’s growing awareness of forest protection, as well as forestation’s important contribution to environmental protection, social values and human wellbeing.

In a video message, UNEP Communications Director Mr. Satinder Bindra said: “To highlight the use of trees and forests, UNEP has been leading the Billion Tree Campaign. So far we have planted 11 billion trees across the world and China has really done very well. Along with India it tops the roll of honor in this tree planting campaign. China has planted 2.8 billion trees and some of them have been planted by the China Green Foundation which has an e-planting initiative. This is supported by the State Forestry Administration. And this year, the third successive year in a row, you will be planting many more trees in western China.”

With the launch of the 3rd E-Tree Progamme, organizers hope that more citizens, enterprises and organizations, especially the younger generation, will be able to join, pay more attention and support forestation and ecological construction in China. Each one can contribute their individual power through the Internet, to protect forests and the Earth while creating a better home where humans and the nature co-exist harmoniously.

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