Washington, D.C. – 23 March 2013 – Forest conservation from Russia to Uganda will be highlighted this year during Earth Hour – the world’s largest movement for the planet. Celebrated on Saturday, 23 March at 8:30pm, this year’s Earth Hour asks the hundreds of millions of people participating from 152 countries to challenge each other with “I Will if You Will.” Forest conservations have stepped up to the challenge with initiatives that seek to conserve the world’s threatened forests and help our planet – including the planting of a tree called “Hope.”
The world’s forests are home to 80% of terrestrial biodiversity and more than 1.6 billion people directly dependent on them. Forests also play an important role in fighting climate change. Deforestation and forest degradation account for up to 20% of carbon gas emissions globally – more than all of the world’s the automobiles, trucks, planes, trains and ships combined.
In Uganda, nearly 2,700 hectares of degraded land has been identified by WWF and an Earth Hour initiative created to reforest it with at least 500,000 indigenous trees. The first tree, which the Earth Hour community named “Hope,” will be planted on Saturday March 23 to celebrate Earth Hour.
“We cannot afford to ignore this critical environmental threat we are facing today. So, we are calling upon every individual, business, government agency, friends and family members to join us in planting this new landmark for Uganda’s environment,” said David Duli, WWF-Uganda Country Director. Read more at http://www.earthhour.org/uganda2013. Watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOsliz14ymA
In Russia, an Earth Hour initiative has met a goal of gathering 100,000 petition signatures from Russian citizens calling for amendments to current forest legislation. This could mean a return to stronger protection of Russian forest an area twice the size of France, and 18% of Russia’s forests protected. More information at: http://www.earthhour.org/russiaforest
In Botswana, former president Festus Mogae has promised to raise awareness on climate change and plant one million indigenous trees over the next four years, as part of his “I Will If You Will” Earth Hour 2013 challenge. His One Million Trees – Plant for Life campaign urges others in his country to be good stewards of the environment by protecting the country’s biodiversity against degradation and deforestation and has already inspired private companies and government institutions.
In Madagascar, 100 schools around the capital city of Antananarivo have made an Earth Hour commitment to plant 10,000 trees. More than 1,000 subsidized wood-saving cooking stoves will also be distributed to help curb deforestation.
Earth Hour 2013 tree planting programs are also taking place in Kazakhstan, Indonesia and elsewhere.
“It is exciting to see so many people around the world choosing to help conserve forests as part of their Earth Hour 2013 actions,” said Bruce Cabarle, leader of WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative. “These actions raise awareness for the value of our Earth’s forests for people and nature, and will help us reach our goal of zero net deforestation and forest degradation – to help fight climate change and protect forests as a natural resource for those that depend on them.”
For more information about WWF’s global REDD+ work, visit: www.panda.org/forestclimate. Connect with us via Twitter at www.twitter.com/wfforestcarbon and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/wwfforestclimate.
To learn more about Earth Hour, visit: www.earthhour.org.