The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is attempting to break the world record for the highest number of trees planted in a 24-hour period. As part of a concerted effort to combat climate change, officials in the country’s most populous state are hoping to smash Pakistan’s 2013 record of 847,275 trees planted in one day by planting 50 million trees.
The Associated Press quoted the state’s Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, as saying that “the world has realized that serious efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global climate change. Uttar Pradesh has made a beginning in this regard.” Yadav made the comments to volunteers gathered in the city of Kannauj, 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of the state capital, Lucknow. More than 800,000 people across the state were given millions of saplings to plant at designated spots along roads, rail tracks and forested areas.
Related: India plans to spend $6.2 billion to create new forests
At the Paris climate talks last December, the Indian government pledged to increase forest cover to 95 million hectares (235 million acres) by 2030. The government has earmarked $6.2 billion for the effort and is encouraging all 29 states to start tree-planting drives similar to Uttar Pradesh.
Senior forest official Sanjeev Saran told the Associated Press that the tree-planting sites would be monitored through aerial photograpy to see how many saplings were growing. Usually only around 60 percent of saplings survive, officials said, with the rest succumbing to disease or lack of water. According to the most recent Forest Survey of India statistics published in 2013, 5.96 percent of Uttar Pradesh is forested area and the forest cover across the country is at 21.23 percent. The government’s goal is to increase forest cover to 33 percent, sequestering 2.5 billion tons of carbon.
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