Plant a Tree in Africa on Earth Day

    Unique tree-planting program connects Canadians with rural Africa

    TORONTO, April 17 /CNW/ - This Earth Day, on April 22nd, Canadians will
demonstrate their concern for global climate change as well as deforestation
in rural Africa by planting a tree in Africa in support of Canadian Physicians
for Aid & Relief's (CPAR's) unique Plant a Tree in Africa (PAT) program.
    These days it's hard not to hear about how the effects of global climate
change are wreaking havoc on the environment - causing both immediate and
long-term issues in our communities. As we look past our own backyards and
into the global communities in Africa - unfortunately, the situation looks
even more critical.
    Environmental experts say that global warming could pose one of the
potentially greatest set-backs to human development in Africa in the past 100
years or more.
    Through the PAT program, Canadians have realized that that planting a
tree in Africa is a simple but very important thing that people can do to help
changes lives. Planting trees in rural Africa not only reduces the negative
affects of global warming - it combats deforestation and has many other
environmental benefits including returning moisture and nutrients to the soil,
preventing future soil erosion from occurring, adding moisture to the air
resulting in increased rainfall - and therefore increasing crop production.
    Since its inception in 1984, the PAT program has been responsible for
planting more than 50 million trees in countries including Malawi, Ethiopia,
Tanzania and Uganda. This growing number indicates that the simple act of
planting a tree is viewed as an important act that can tackle extreme
conditions of deforestation in rural Africa resulting from drought, the
overgrazing of livestock and cutting down of trees for fuel wood.
    The PAT program allows people to make a difference through direct tree
sponsorship, which provides an opportunity to plant a tree in someone's name.
The program also promotes the sale of vibrant PAT products including
sweatshirts, hats, greeting cards and T-shirts with the proceeds going to
assist vulnerable African communities.
    In countries like Ethiopia and Malawi where forest cover falls below 10
per cent, tree-planting has become a vital step towards achieving a secure
food supply, improving health and economic growth as well as restoring the
environment to a healthy and productive state.
    Restoring communities to a healthy and productive state has also become a
growing widespread global concern. Carbon neutral initiatives that promote the
planting of trees to offset the effects from carbon emissions from vehicles,
airplane travel and other equipment that contribute to global warming are
becoming increasingly popular. Environmental damage caused by industry is not
the only global concern - and programs like CPAR's PAT program are a harsh
reminder that rural communities in developing nations also continue to be
faced by environmental concerns.
    The PAT program is responsible for planting millions of trees and the
development of more than 200 nurseries. These community-run nurseries, house a
wide variety of tree species such as Incense, Olio Africana and Leucenia and
enable local people to take an active role in sustaining their own
    Local African communities take great care to ensure that the majority -
60 to 80 percent of the planted trees survive. One third of the seedlings are
planted on erosion-prone hillsides to protect and enrich the soil. During this
process, it is also important to ensure that the trees are placed in an
accessible location where the local population can access essential building
materials and fuel and fodder for animals. These trees are not destroyed
during this process because building materials and fuel can be harvested from
the branches while the trees continue to grow.

    CPAR works with local rural African communities to develop primary health
care, income generation, natural resource management and peace building
programs in support of a vision where 'health' is created and sustained by the
environmental, economic and social well-being of a community. Founded in 1984,
CPAR works in partnership with vulnerable communities and diverse
organizations to overcome poverty and build healthy communities in Ethiopia,
Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.

    For more information about the PAT program:

For further information:

For further information: Media requiring more information: Roxane
Tracey, Communications Manager, CPAR, Email:, Web:, Tel: (416) 369-0865 ext. 26

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