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Attenborough praises global tree project

Press AssociationPress Association 16/11/2016 Tony Jones

David Attenborough has praised an ambitious project that aims to create a global network of protected Commonwealth forests, as the first nations to sign up to the initiative were honoured by the Queen.

The broadcaster and naturalist told the 20 countries who have committed themselves to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) that research has confirmed the scale of the destruction of the planet's estimated three trillion trees - 15 billion a year with only five billion planted as replacements.

The project is the brainchild of Labour MP Frank Field who had a vision of creating a collection of forest and woodland conservation initiatives across the 52 member states of the Commonwealth.

They will be preserved in perpetuity to mark the monarch's lifetime of service to the family of nations.

Launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last year in Malta organisers hope to have all the nations involved by the next gathering of Commonwealth leaders in 2018.

Attenborough, who spoke at a Buckingham Palace reception where high commissioners and other representatives received awards recognising their country's role in the QCC, said he had witnessed the devastating effect of forests destruction over his lifetime.

"A recent Yale University Study estimated that there are now about three trillion trees on Earth but we are removing about 15 billion a year with only five billion being planted back," he said.

"Preserving the world's green corridors, forests, jungles and botanic gardens is the simplest and most effective way to keep breathing life into planet earth.

"I do believe that we have an obligation to nurture and replenish our natural environment for the benefit of our children and grandchildren."

The Queen was joined at the event by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson the most senior Government representative.

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