The town of Rikuzentakata in Japan started a Facebook campaign to save the only tree left standing after the tsunami that hit the coast of the country in March 2011.
The 27.5 meter-tall pine withstood the disaster, has become a symbol of reconstruction and is the star of a fund-raising campaign on the social network. The campaign aims to collect donations to preserve it.
According to the mayor of the town, there were about 70,000 pine trees along Takata Matsubara beach, located near the mouth of the Kesen River flowing into the Pacific Ocean. The lone, tall pine tree was the only one left standing for miles around. The tsunami killed more than 2,000 people in the area.
Unfortunately, the tree which has been called "the Miracle Pine", is dying because its roots were damaged by infiltration of salt into the ground. This makes the recovery of the tree very unlikely. However, the Rikuzentakata hopes that by collecting funds through the Facebook campaign they may collect sufficient funds to apply an expensive treatment to the land and hopefully save the tree. "At least we managed to recover some seeds that have germinated in two botanical gardens and have grown to 10 centimeters," says Yoshihisa Suzuki, head of a group protecting the Takata Matsubara pine grove. Suzuki hopes that the seedlings can be transplanted to Rikuzentakata by the time the soil recovers, which they expect may happen around 2020, reports The Asahi Shimbun.
This is not the first time the residents of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, had problems with their pines. In 1960, a tsunami caused by a major earthquake in southern Chile, went across the Pacific Ocean and destroyed a large part of the grove. According to the Wall Street Journal, the residents replanted, but their pines were ripped out again by the devastating tsunami of March 2011, caused by an earthquake in their own coast.