Rotary District 7030 – Tree Planting Competition

At the 1990 Rotary International Convention in Portland, Oregon, incoming President Paulo Costa declared that “the hour has come for Rotary to raise its voice, to claim its leadership, and to rouse all Rotarians to an honorable crusade to protect our natural resources”, declaring a Rotary initiative to “Preserve Planet Earth”, and asking Rotarians to make environmental issues part of their service agenda: to plant trees, to work to keep our air and water clean, and to protect the planet for future generations. President Costa urged clubs to plant 1.1m trees, one for every Rotarian. Rotarians responded by planting 35m trees by the end of the Rotary year, and over the next six years, clubs all over the world completed over 1,000 environmental projects.
Trees and forests contribute greatly to the well-being of our societies and economies, reducing soil erosion, and maintaining oxygen flow, water cycles, and clean air. To some extent, more than 1.6 billion rural people — including indigenous people and small farmers — depend on forests. More than 90% of people living in extreme poverty depend on forests for all or part of their livelihoods.
However, the threat to global forests is alarming, with 7 million hectares (about 5 million football fields) destroyed annually. This deforestation – together with agriculture and other land use changes – accounts for about a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing forest loss and planting new trees creates multiple benefits for ecosystems and people, in addition to improving the climate. Urban trees help ease the “heat island” effect, offering cooling shade for homes and buildings and reducing the energy needed for air conditioning. Trees everywhere clean the air and sequester carbon.
The health of the land affects us in many ways because we depend on land for shelter, water, and agriculture. Restoration of landscapes makes our communities more resilient because it strengthens water catchments and can protect cities from natural disasters, such as coastal mangroves that are natural buffers to storms. Tree planting is essential to the restoration of habitats, watersheds, and ecosystems.
With this in mind, the District Environmental Sustainability Committee takes this opportunity to call upon member countries to organise tree planting activities in their communities, bringing Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors and EarlyActors together, along with family members, friends, and corporate partners, in a bid to plant the most trees per capita before the end of the Rotary year.