Organizers of India’s 250 million trees project set a lofty goal. They expect that many trees—yes, a quarter of a billion—to be planted across the country this year. The idea is simple: get as many life-giving trees into the ground as possible. India pledges to keep a third of its total land area under forest and tree cover.
In a collective reforestation effort, lawmakers, government officials, and volunteers swarmed riverbanks, farms, forests, and school and government properties to plant. They set saplings into the soil around 68,000 villages and 83,000 forest sites in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state.
The nation started the tree-planting drive four years ago in an attempt to curb deforestation. “We are committed to increasing the forest cover of Uttar Pradesh state to over 15% of the total land area in the next five years. In today’s campaign, over 100 million trees will be planted,” says Manoj Singh, a senior state forest official.
This year, people focused on the “peepul” tree, a type of ficus. Many young saplings of this type were planted all around the state capital of Lucknow. That city was ravaged by coronavirus infections. Hospitals ran short of oxygen needed to treat the very sick.
“This tree is known to release maximum oxygen. So this plant is the ‘need of the hour,’ as we are reminded of its importance after facing the oxygen shortage crisis when the outbreak was at its peak,” says Shachindra Sharma.
Trees are beautifully designed to help balance air quality. They serve as filters, pulling dust and pollution from the air, while absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. God was purposeful in His design. He covered the face of the Earth with an abundance of trees that operate like factories, cleaning air and replenishing it for other living organisms.
Genesis 2:9 describes the first trees God created, “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Not all 250 million saplings that are planted this year in India will survive. Under normal conditions, close to half will succumb to diseases or lack of water. People working with the sapling program are aware of that statistic. They are striving to increase the survival rate. State Forest Minister Dara Singh Chauhan says it’s getting better. In the past four years, about 80% of new saplings have survived.