Trees are the lungs of the planet. They help keep the air we breathe clean, they take in carbon dioxide and release the oxygen we breathe – and they provide vital homes for so many animal species. Sadly, not everyone appreciates the ecological value of trees, favoring instead their monetary worth. Well, it turns out that in many cases, trees are “worth” more when they’re chopped down and removed to make way for other industries like animal agriculture or palm oil. Unfortunately, we are facing the consequences of clear-cutting the world’s forests. It is estimated that if we do not take action to protect and restore the world’s forests, we will only have around 19 years to reign in the most dire impacts of climate change. Additionally, around 52 percent of the world’s wildlife has disappeared in the past 40 years and habitat loss has played a major role in this.

If we hope to restore the damage done to the planet, we need to take serious action to reduce the number of trees we’re destroying and actively work to reforest depleted areas. Which is precisely what a group of over 800,000 people in Uttar Pradesh, India, have done. In only one day, this incredible collective of volunteers and government officials banded together to plant a total of 49.3 million trees – that is major!

This massive effort was carried out as part of the commitment India made at the Paris Climate Summit to reforest 12 percent of its land. 

“The world has realized that serious efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global climate change,” said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

According to a report in National Geographic, officials also hope the trees will improve air quality in India, which suffers from some of the worst in the world. Six of India’s cities have been ranked in the World Health Organization’s list of 10 most polluted cities, so every tree helps!

The citizens of Uttar Pradesh also hoped to break the current Guinness World Record for most trees planted in 24 hours. The current title is held by Pakistan with 847, 275 trees. While officials from Guinness still have to certify the number of trees planted, it seems like India is set to clear this goal by a landslide.

We can all play a role in protecting the world’s forests by avoiding palm oil whenever possible and reducing, or eliminating, our meat and dairy consumption. To learn more about how you can use your food choices to combat deforestation, join One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.

Image source: 108MotionBG/Shutterstock