Climate change has been a prominent global issue and it is bringing us increasingly visible and life-threatening impacts. Our lifestyle and rapid development are said to be the biggest contributing factor towards climate change. However, changing one’s lifestyle is far less than what’s needed to cease or even decelerate the damage; more straight-forward ways to remove CO2 and conserve the environment are needed.
Tree-planting is one way we can help save our environment because it neutralizes carbon emission and maintains a natural habitat. I could also personally take part in this frontline action in saving the earth. This summer, I participated in a tree-planting ambassadors program – the No. 44th Youth Ambassadors Training Camp, which is a part of the International Million Trees (Forest) Project & Network (Million Trees Project). The Million Trees Project is a worldwide project which has a primary aim to promote greening and to prevent desertification. In Hong Kong and Asia, its theme is “Save the climate, plant the future” where various organizations including UNEP and HKGNU join hands to promote tree-planting. This ambassador program is hence an opportunity for youth to acquire basic knowledge about planting trees as well as other skills, like engineering and languages in order to facilitate tree-planting efforts.
This ambassadors program consisted of two parts. The first part was a 2-days camp, which aimed to strengthen our confidence while enriching our practical knowledge on tree-planting. The second part was a series of workshops focusing on a variety of skills like engineering, languages and survival skills. These programs provided us with a comprehensive view on tree-planting and leadership, helping us become independent ambassadors who could subsist in foreign and dangerous regions.
Before the camp, there was a briefing session on specialized tree-planting knowledge. I learned the criteria of choosing appropriate tools, locations, siblings, planting and digging methods on different environments. From the session, I realized that tree-planting required knowledge of various fields and multiple considerations. I had also been taught the kinds of invasive species and the importance of identifying the stages of ecological succession in the environment.
The training camp was similar to a normal leadership camp except for its unique feature of simulating a real tree-planting mission. The participants were required to carry their own food and all the tools needed for tree-planting, including specialized hoes, scissors and saplings. We were also required to plan our routes to reach the destination of the tree-planting site. These brought us an exclusive experience of going through the real authentic burdens and difficulties during a tree-planting mission. During the mission, we planted 10 trees even though we did encounter a lot of constraints like the surrounding environment and limited time. Besides the hiking and planting part, a brief kayak and herbs workshop were also hosted to provide a broader exposure to the environment.
The most memorable moment of the camp was the ‘night walk’ which encouraged us to explore our inner self and reflect on our life experiences. Before the start of the walk, we were told to think of the most upsetting moment in our lives. Then we were blind-folded and asked to walk about in complete darkness. There were hurdles and obstacles blocking our way, mimicking the challenging yet solvable problems we faced in real life. The walk and the guidance of the helpers conveyed the message that, ‘there will always be problems and difficult encounters in your life, but there are other ways that help you overcome them and lead you to success’.
Participating in this camp equipped me with essential knowledge and experience. I have also met lots of passionate environmentalists who share their insights with us. I realized that not only Hong Kong, but the whole globe needs to be ‘greenified’. Desertification, over-deforestation and rapid urban development sacrificed millions of trees and our help is important. After this camp, I became determined to continue with these workshops and services while promoting them to my friends. And I will keep on making an effort towards the environment and my self-improvement.