Ronaldo kicks off mangrove campaign in Bali
Soccer star accepts title of 'mangrove care ambassador'
Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been named 'Bali’s mangrove care ambassador,' today launched a ‘Save the Mangroves, Save the Earth' campaign by planting trees in Badung regency on Bali island.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and a number of cabinet members were present at the event.
"I thank Mr. President and the first lady,” said Ronaldo. “I am delighted to come to Indonesia and I hope my role in Bali can provide encouragement and initiatives to save the mangroves.”
He told reporters he accepted the ambassador role after his encounter with Tomy Winata, an Indonesian tycoon, who met him in Spain four months ago.
“He invited me to be ambassador of the Bali mangrove care forum. I accepted it,” he said.
According to media reports, Ronaldo’s interest in mangrove conservation started when he met Martunis, an eight-year old boy who survived the Aceh tsunami in 2004 by clinging to a mangrove tree.
When the boy was discovered he was wearing Portugal’s national team jersey with Ronaldo’s name on it. Ronaldo brought the boy to Europe and introduced him to his fellow players.
Thousands of school children and local people witnessed the tree planting event.
In a brief speech, President Yudhoyono said the presence of the Portuguese striker is inspirational, and can teach young people to care for the mangrove forest.
“Indonesia has more than 130 million hectares of tropical forest, 3.7 million hectares of it are mangroves that require attention,” Yudhoyono told the audience.
Mangrove forests are much prized by environmentalists as they can absorb four to five times more carbon emissions times than land-based forest.
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