A United Nations goal to have one billion trees planted in one year has reached its mark, the UN announced Wednesday, days before climate change talks are set to begin in Indonesia.
Half of the saplings planted under the Billion Trees Campaign, launched in Kenyan capital in November 2006, were planted by private citizens and households, while 13 percent were planted by the private sector.
"I am delighted to say that an initiative to catalyse the pledging and the planting of one billion trees has been achieved and has indeed surpassed its mark," the UN's Environment Programme director Achim Steiner said.
"It is a further sign of the breathtaking momentum witnessed this year on the challenge for this generation - climate change."
Ethiopia planted the most trees - about 700 million - as part of its millennium celebrations, while Mexico was next with 217 million plantation and Turkey third with 150 million.
Delegates and environment ministers from around the world are set to converge on Bali, Indonesia, next week for the UN climate change talks, where decisions on a post-Kyoto emissions reduction plan are expected to be discussed.
Rapid deforestation is blamed for the increasing effects of climate change, and planting trees is seen as a way to slow those effects. "We called you to action almost exactly a year ago and you responded beyond our dreams. Now we must keep the pressure on and continue the good work for the planet," said Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, who inspired the initiative.