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Friday, March 27, 2009

UN lauds effort to reforest Appalachia's mountains

BLACKEY, Ky. (AP) — Sam Adams laid his tools aside and gently pushed fresh dirt around an oak sapling he hopes one day will be part of a hardwood forest high above this Appalachian community.

He was one of about 70 people gathered in Blackey last week to plant thousands of trees on the barren grasslands left behind by mining companies that have ripped the mountaintops apart to unearth coal, decimating entire forests.

"We've got an estimated 741,000 acres in Appalachia that are barren," said Adams, the Kentucky coordinator for the conservation group Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team. "If we put a dent in that, if we could correct that, I think it's well worth doing."

Adams and the others were volunteering for the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, a movement led by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and several Appalachian states to replace trees uprooted in the search for coal. The campaign is being lauded by the United Nations Environment Programme, which wants to plant 7 billion trees worldwide in the next three years to combat global deforestation.

Elisabeth Guilbaud-Cox, a staff member of the UN Environment Programme's Regional Office of North America, is scheduled to visit an eastern Kentucky mine site on Saturday to help volunteers plant more trees.

The overall goal is to plant about 38 million trees on Appalachian mine sites.

Read on
The painting is by Frederik Marianus Kruseman

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