"They don't have forests, but we do, so if we all want this one Earth of ours to survive, please share," he said as he planted a sapling outside the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

 

"Trees are the heroes that are saving the earth," Yudhoyono said, adding Indonesia, needed technology and financial assistance to protect its forests.

 

Environmental groups have said the tree-planting scheme, while well-intentioned, will have little effect without an immediate halt to current levels of deforestation.

 

Indonesia loses an area of forest equivalent to around 300 football fields every hour due to illegal logging, mining and slash-and-burn land clearing for highly profitable palm oil plantations.

 

Conservation groups say the deforestation makes Indonesia a major contributor to global warming.

 

Yudhoyono said that if the trend continues, future generations will face food and water shortages.

 

In addition many of Indonesia's 17,000 islands will be submerged by rising sea waters, while scores of animal and plant species will vanish.

 

The tree-planting campaign was launched ahead of next month's UN climate change conference in Bali, where world leaders will negotiate a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

 

Nations like Indonesia which have large tracts of rainforest argue that they should receive compensation if they reduce global warming by refusing to clear or burn trees.