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November 06, 2009

Senegalese NGO plants 34 million mangrove trees

A Senegalese environmental NGO announced on November 6 Friday that it had planted 34 million mangrove trees in three months in a project largely financed by French dairy giant Danone to offset its carbon footprint.

According to the environmental organisation Oceanium some 34 million mangrove seedlings were planted between August and November, 27 million in Senegal's southern Casamance region and 7 million in the Saloum river delta. Over 78,000 volunteers from 323 villages participated in the massive planting campaign.

"To my knowledge it is the first time ever that (over) 30 million trees have been planted in three months," Oceanium's president Haidar El Ali said.

Mangrove trees and shrubs form characteristic forests in saline coastal areas in the tropics and the subtropics.

In Senegal, the distinctive mangrove landscape is under threat and in the southern Casamance region the mangrove forests shrank to half their original size in the last 30 years.

The mangroves have an important place in Senegal's ecosystem. Without the mangrove forests the water becomes too salty to grow rice, a staple food for the Senegalese, fish die and the soil becomes exhausted.

French dairy giant Danone paid for the planting of the majority of the seedling, 30 million plants, Oceanium said.

"Danone wanted to compensate the carbon emission from its Evian business. They want to offset what they cannot reduce" in terms of carbon emissions, Jean Goepp of Oceanium told AFP.

He added that scientists are currently studying how much of the carbon emissions can be offset in the 5,000 hectares of mangrove seedlings planted due to Danone's 700,000-euro (one-million-dollar) investment.


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