Leh plants record 50k saplings in 33 min

23 October 2010, NDTV

View original article on The Times of India

LEH: Two months after flashfloods devastated the region and left over 200 dead, thousands of people, including Hong Kong musician-filmmaker Kenny Pee and Spanish actor Carlos Leal, turned out to plant saplings to create environmental awareness at Karu on Leh outskirts on Sunday.

In the process, around 9,000 people, who planted 50,033 Ladakh willow saplings in 33 minutes and 25 seconds over 1.12 lakh sq yard area, also broke the Guinness World Record for planting maximum saplings in an hour. The earlier record of 27,166 saplings was set in Peru.

A joint 'Live To Love' and 'The Drukpa Lineage' effort, the plantation campaign started amid chants of 'yali yangsol. Its head Gyalwang Drukpa said flashfloods provided residents an opportunity to understand the the importance of trees. "Damage to both life and property could've been reduced had there been more trees."

Pee said he had worked with Drukpa during a concert in Kathmandu in April. "Since then, I've been chasing His Holiness (Drukpa)," said Pee, who's in Leh along with with his wife, Gama.

A participant, Stanzin (21), from Zanskar had travelled for days to take part in the event. "This is for our good," she said.

Divisional forest officer (Ladakh) B Balaji allayed fears about plantation of trees in the region. "It's a misconception that plantation is harmful to the region's ecosystem. It can influence only the micro climate," he said. He said contrary to the popular belief, flora disn't casue the cloudburst. "Plantation has been on since 1965 and is known to prevent soil erosion by binding earth together. "Plantation of seabuck thorn and willows can actually save many lives during cloudburst."

Guinness World Records' Tarika Vara said the turnout at the event was heartening. "We were expecting 8,000 people but close to 12,000 came. We could only include 9,313," she said.