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Twelve hours. That is all it took for the volunteers in India to plant 66 million trees. To make it happen, 1.5 million people in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, got their shovels, buckets of water, and massive amounts of determination and got to work. The result was record-breaking – but also ground-breaking for the ecosystem in the area that will now be 66 million times greener!

On July 2, 2017, people gathered to plant saplings along the Narmada River. The action lasted from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. – exactly 12 hours. The campaign was organized by the Madhya Pradesh government and 24 districts of the Narmada river basin were chosen as planting sites in order to increase the saplings’ chances of survival.

The campaign attracted an incredible number of people, including many children and the elderly. The final number of trees planted was an astounding 66.3 million. “By planting trees we are not only serving Madhya Pradesh but the world at large,” the state’s chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, said in a tweet. He described the planting as a “historic day.” But planting is not the end of the story. Sub Divisional Magistrate Madhya Pradesh posted about the future of the trees: “Aftercare is definitely more important and we hope to ensure that as well with the efforts of all those who planted the tree. It is not a government initiative alone, it is the commitment of children, youth and active junta of MP!”

This year’s results of the trees-planting day broke last year’s record of more than 50 million trees. The new high is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks by the observers from Guinness World Records.

Under the Paris Agreement, India committed to increase its forests by five million hectares before 2030. The pledge is especially important since India is the world’s third largest generator of carbon emissions. Last month, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed the country’s commitment to the Paris climate accord. India’s efforts to work towards a positive change for the planet is a seriously inspiring example of how governments and communities should respond to our burning environmental issues that cannot be denied – particularly in the wake of the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and in the face of massive-scale deforestation carried out in vital ecosystems.

Image source:  Riju Bafna/Facebook

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