As 10/10/10 approaches, we are hearing more and more from organizers around the world who are planning work parties. In many parts of Africa, particularly along the edge of the Sahara Desert, climate change and deforestation are causing vast areas of formerly arable land to become desert, a scary development in an already poverty-stricken area. Just a few weeks ago, international donors gave $119m to build a "great green wall" to hold back the continuing desertification.

Sometimes, it may seem like small efforts like planting a tree are insignificant. Here's a guest post from Landry Ninteretse, who works with school groups in Uganda and Burundi, on the importance of planting trees and forests. Also, don't forget to register your 10/10 tree-planting work party — and check out our easy how-to guide for tree planting.

While lecturing in secondary schools on climate change, we strongly encourage students not only to protect existing forests and woodlots but also to plant more trees in their school premises, homes and communities.

Once could argue:’’ Is tree planting so important?’’ Absolutely. Unfortunately, the whole value of trees and forest is till now not well understood by people, especially those relying on natural resources for their daily survival. Many people use trees to get firewood and charcoal for cooking, to obtain poles to fence their properties. Trees are also used as building materials and provide employment opportunities in carpentry and furniture.

However, the value of trees goes beyond that. There are number of ecological services we get from trees without realizing it. Forests are home to different types of animals and plants. They protect water catchment areas by acting as filters for run off hence contributing to the sustenance of ground water system. Forests are source of basic ingredient for medicines used to treat diseases. They cover land to prevent soil erosion and land slides and acts as wind breakers.

Regarding climate change, forests are very critical as they act as carbon sinks by absorbing carbon dioxide. More trees mean more carbon dioxide absorbed and more oxygen produced through photosynthesis and hence moderates the greenhouse effect responsible of global warming.

When we fully understand this importance of forest to human kind and its well being, we must act. Protect existing forests becomes a duty for everybody. Better, we realize as ordinary citizens, we can play a role in mitigating global warming. If each citizen on this planet commits to plant a least one tree per year, the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed will be considerable. Encouraging such initiative and well as the use of clean energy worldwide is definitively the solution to overcome the current climate crisis.

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