Philippines plants trees, aims for Guinness Book of Records

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took part Friday in a massive tree-planting campaign aimed at improving air quality in the Philippines while breaking a world record.

The "Green Philippine Highways" project initially aimed to simultaneously plant 500,000 trees on 3,439 kilometers (2,137 miles) of roads across the sprawling archipelago, but Environment Undersecretary Francisco Bravo said the figure may have been higher, AP reports.

Some 620,000 seedlings were distributed to government and civic groups and nearly a million participants signed up, including members of 4,414 organizations, he said.

"This morning, we planted trees all over the archipelago, the biggest number of trees planted at one time in the history of the world," Arroyo said in a speech after launching the project. "We will probably make it to the Guinness Book of Records for that."

The current record for most number of trees planted simultaneously is listed as 300,587 in 2005 by 16,317 people at 18 sites across India's Andhra Pradesh state.

There was no immediate word from Guinness on Friday's record attempt.

Bravo said participants were given a half-hour to plant, starting at 10 a.m., with each participant asked to sign a document for every tree planted.

The documents were to be verified by village officials, sent to a computer network at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and then checked by a leading auditing company.

The environment department said a recent study showed the Philippines has the second most polluted air among eight Southeast Asian countries polled, with vehicle emissions accounting for 70 percent of the pollution.

Experts say at least 10 trees are needed to absorb the carbon emissions of a single motor vehicle.