30 million tree planting pledge marks World Environment Day in Azerbaijan
Baku leading global day of environmental action in Europe
Baku, 3 June 2010 – To mark World Environment Day (WED), the Government of Azerbaijan has joined the global Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign with a pledge to plant 30 million trees.
The announcement was made today by Azerbaijan’s Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, Huseyn Bagirov, during a tree planting event the capital, Baku, attended by Christophe Bouvier, Director of the UN Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Europe.
Baku is one of three city hubs leading WED 2010 activities in Europe, alongside Geneva (Switzerland) and Genoa (Italy), and its main event is the planting today of 1,000 seedlings and a certificate presentation to officially mark the Government’s commitment to UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign.
By the end of 2009, more than 7.4 billion trees had been planted worldwide by participants in 170 countries under the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign, far exceeding the year-end target of 7 billion trees.
The Government has also expressed its support to work with UNEP to contribute to improve environmental outcomes at home and on the world stage. Azerbaijan is home to diverse landscapes from wetlands to semi-arid zones and contains a rich variety of biodiversity.
“We are proud to join the global community which is part of the UNEP-led Billion Tree Campaign, and to take this opportunity, on World Environment Day, to encourage people to take action themselves and plant a tree,” Mr. Bagirov said.
Mr. Bagirov and Mr. Bouvier also announced that Azerbaijan will host the Gabala Conference, a Pan-European high-level meeting on biodiversity from 5-7 July 2010.
At the request of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Gabala Conference will prepare the European input for a Heads of Government event on biodiversity to be held in New York on 22 September as part of a UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals that will take place on the eve of the opening of the 65th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
“The President of Azerbaijan has declared 2010 the Year of the Environment for Green Earth and we are pleased to be demonstrating our environmental commitment through several major commitments,” Minister Bagirov said
“Ten million trees have already been planted across Azerbaijan as part of our total pledge of 30 million trees to the Billion Tree Campaign.
“The Government of Azerbaijan wants to highlight both the progress we are making here and call on other countries in the Pan-European region to reaffirm their commitment to protecting biodiversity,” he added..
Mr. Bouvier welcomed the Government of Azerbaijan’s contribution to furthering critical biodiversity conservation issues, including strengthening the links between poverty alleviation and conservation.
“Azerbaijan lies at the heart of two of the jewels of European environment and biodiversity, the Caucasus mountains and the Caspian,” Mr. Bouvier said.
“We know the government will continue to do its utmost to play a central role in their conservation and sustainable management in cooperation with other countries of the region. UNEP is determined to continue to play its part in facilitating this cooperation.
“The Government’s extensive forest expansion programme and central role at the forthcoming pan European talks is amplifying Azerbaijan’s commitment to achieving improved outcomes at home and in the region and it’s appropriate to highlight this for World Environment Day,” he added.
With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to attend the MDG summit in New York to accelerate progress towards reaching those goals.
The Gabala Conference will consist of Ministerial roundtable sessions that will link the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity to the achievement of the MDGs.
WED is one of the principal vehicles through which the UN promotes awareness of the environment and encourages widespread attention and action worldwide – from schoolchildren to presidents and from community groups to multinational corporations.
Marked annually on 5 June, WED is a day for everyone on the planet to ‘go green’ and encourage greater attention and action on the environment from individuals, organizations and governments.
Details of planned WED activities in Europe and around the world are available on the official website at: www.unep.org/wed.
Ms. Irada Ibrahimova, Head of Media Division, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, Rep. of Azerbaijan. Tel.: +994 12 438 73 18, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS
Billion Tree Campaign:
The Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign is a global tree planting initiative run by UNEP which now has a new target of planting 12 billion trees. People, communities, businesses, industry, civil society organizations and governments are encouraged to enter tree planting pledges on-line on the UNEP website.
To date more than 10 billion trees have been planted by participants in 180 countries under the campaign. With this success continuing into 2010, the Billion Tree Campaign will make a substantial contribution to WED and to the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.
The campaign strongly encourages the planting of indigenous trees and trees that are appropriate to the local environment. In Azerbaijan, the main species being planted are the Olive tree, Cupressus Simperiveris (Cypress) and Tuya (Cupress aclae).
Azerbaijan is home to diverse landscapes from wetlands to semi-arid zones and contains a rich variety of biodiversity. For example, in Shirvan National Park, the country’s first national park proclaimed in 2003, up to 65 bird species inhabit the shores of the Flamingo Lake and the Caspian Sea. Twelve fish species occur in the Flamingo Lake and channels. The park is home to the following animals: goitred gazelles, wild boar, beavers, wild cats, hares, wolves, jackals, fox, and badgers, among others.
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