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Don Cheadle

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Let's Plant a Forest

Posted: 06/02/11 09:38 AM ET

Sunday, June 5 is World Environment Day (WED) -- what better way to celebrate the environment than by planting a forest in this year's host country, India?

When I was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment (UNEP) program at last year's WED in Rwanda, I had the privilege of participating in the WED Legacy Initiative. For every activity registered, $10 was contributed to gorilla protection in the host country.

And the WED community came through, raising nearly $100,000.

This year, in conjunction with the UN International Year of Forests, I have challenged fellow Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bundchen to see who can inspire the most environmentally friendly actions around the world. The winner will plant a new forest.

The WED Challenge will demonstrate the impact of a single action -- every green thing you do has an exponential impact when combined with the actions of others. And it is my goal to get as many individuals and organizations as possible to choose an environmental activity or pledge an action, then register it on the WED Challenge website as a member of #TeamDon. Whether it's switching from plastic bags to cloth bags, car-pooling with colleagues or organizing a tree-planting day, WED activities can be big, small, local, international, noisy, quiet... just as long as they're green.

With each action registered to her name, Gisele will plant one tree; for each registered to mine, I will plant two. That's twice as many trees if you join #TeamDon! Together, we can show the exponential impact of planting a single tree; together we can create a forest (Cheadle forest..., I like the sound of that!).

The benefits of forests permeate our lives in ways we may not realize. Forests provide us with natural resources such as timber, fuel, rubber, paper and medicinal plants. They also provide 60 million indigenous peoples with homes, security and livelihoods. They decrease the impacts of storms and floods and help regulate water quality. Not to mention forests are home to more than half of the world's terrestrial species. Forest preservation needs to be a priority: over 36 million acres of natural forest are destroyed annually. All you have to do to help reverse this trend is join #TeamDon and register an action.

After all, what is more important than clean air and a healthy planet? The theme of this year's WED, Forests: Nature at Your Service, underscores the variety of life-sustaining services that forests provide and calls us all to take action to protect these resources and move towards a greener economy. Browse the A-Z of WED ideas, find your inspiration and tell the world what you're doing, then register your action to #TeamDon at WEDChallenge.org.

To view the WED Challenge PSAs visit: http://vimeo.com/23999201