JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Indonesia, which is losing its forest at a faster rate than any other country, launched a campaign Wednesday to plant 79 million trees ahead of a critical climate change conference opening on the resort island of Bali.
"We will show Indonesia's strong commitment and action to preserve the environment and save our planet," said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as he planted saplings with members of his government. "Illegal logging is our biggest enemy."
Around 300 soccer fields of trees are destroyed every hour due to illegal logging, mining and slash-and-burn land clearing for highly profitable palm oil plantations - making the country a major contributor to global warming.
Yudhoyono said if the trend continues, future generations will face food and water shortages. Many of the archipelagic nation's 17,000 islands will likely be submerged by rising sea waters caused by the melting of polar caps, the government says.
Environmental groups have called the planting program well intended, but said it will mean little if the government does not immediately impose a moratorium on deforestation.
World leaders from 80 countries will meet on Bali next month to develop a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.