(AFP) – Nov 19, 2010
SKOPJE — Macedonians took a day off work on Friday to plant seven million trees as part of a project started in 2008 to revive fire-ravaged forests in the landlocked Balkan country.
"The main goal of the 'Plant together for all of us' initiative is to protect the environment and increase ecological awareness among citizens, especially to bring together children and parents to plant the trees together," said organiser, opera singer Boris Trajanov.
About seven million nursery plants -- mostly cypresses and pine trees -- were planted at around 80 sites throughout the country, he said.
Trajanov and his associates, backed by the government, launched the action in March 2008 after raging fires ravaged about 35,000 hectares (86,500 acres) of greenery in Macedonia.
Since then more than 20 million trees have been planted in planting days held twice a year, in March and in November.
Trajanov, a prominent Macedonian opera singer and UNESCO Artist for Peace, said the initiative "has gained popularity and massiveness" in the past two years.
"Now you can often see people planting trees in their yards and neighbourhoods," he said.
Every summer wildfires destroy thousands of hectares of forests in Macedonia, especially in the southern part of the country. They are mostly caused by human error, but also high summer temperatures in summer.
Experts said that restoring the damaged ecosystem could take up to 50 years.
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