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. Macedonia plants six million trees to revive fire-ravaged forests

At the time, more than 200,000 people, among them ministers, policemen, government officials, artists and ambassadors, planted two million trees throughout the country.
by Staff Writers
Skopje (AFP) Nov 19, 2008
Macedonians took a day off work on Wednesday to plant six million trees in an action launched back in March to revive forests after fires ravaged an estimated 35,000 hectares of greenery.

"The main goal of the 'Day of The Tree -- Plant your future' initiative is to protect the environment and increase ecological awareness among citizens," the government said in a statement.

Along with human rights activists and artists, many citizens took the opportunity of a day off work as volunteers to plant the trees. Participants also included 1,800 soldiers who alone planted 200,000.

Wildfires destroyed thousands of hectars of forests in the region around the southern town of Bitola during last summer.

Organisers hope Macedonia's neighbours in the Balkans would follow suit with similar actions, proposing they plant millions of trees throughout the region.

The initiative was first organised in March by Boris Trajanov, prominent Macedonian opera singer and UNESCO Artist for Peace.

At the time, more than 200,000 people, among them ministers, policemen, government officials, artists and ambassadors, planted two million trees throughout the country.

The action was a bid to revive the forestry of Macedonia, which suffered at least 600 devastating fires in the summer of 2007, mostly caused by human error, but also due to extremely high temperatures, especially in July.

At least 35,000 hectares of forests are estimated to have been burned in the past two years, causing damage of up to 30 million euros (37.8 million dollars).

Experts said that restoring the damaged ecosystem could take up to 50 years.

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