India plants 50 million trees in a single day to create world record

India is looking to grow its forest cover as deforestation has weakened annual monsoon in large swathes of India. In photo: An Indian labourer sits on a stack of wood at a sawmill. Photograph:( AFP )

New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 15, 2017, 03.58 PM (IST)

India planted over 50 million saplings in a single day in northern Uttar Pradesh state to create a new world record, in an endeavour to revive its depleting forest cover.

The statewide effort was part of India's pledge to abide by the Paris Climate Conference in 2015, according to the World Economic Forum.

During the conference two years, the Indian government had pledged to put in $6 billion to afforest 12 per cent of its land to bring the total forest cover to 29 per cent.

On Wednesday (February 15), about 800,000 people came together to plant 50.4 million saplings in over 6,000 different places in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The previous afforestation record was set by Pakistan, when they planted a little less than 850,000 trees in 2013.

The freshly-planted trees will be reviewed at regular intervals using aerial photography.

But 40 per cent of the planted trees would die as they would lack regular supply of water.

Advocates of the mass plantation drive suggest that the number might not be of paramount importance, but the fact the government is thinking hard about reducing ambient air quality and redressing the deforestation crisis.

Head of Uttar Pradesh government, Akhilesh Yadav, who was present on the occasion, said: "The world has realized that serious efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global climate change."

Deforestation in India over the past years due to rapid development has had major environmental repercussions, with less rainfall being one of them.

Last year, Scientific Reports had published a study that posited conversion or chopping off of forest land had weakened monsoon in north and northeast part of India.

Change in monsoon patterns have also been attributed to deforestation, studies conducted by Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and Purdue University have previously cited.