Cyber-guided clean-up hopes to sweep globe

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Cyber-environmentalists from Cambodia to Brazil are using Google Earth-based software to target and banish trash from the countryside as they gear up for World Cleanup 2012, event organisers said Friday.

"Preparations for World Cleanup 2012 that were launched in February are being lead at the moment by a 50-member international team in 30 countries," Tiina Urm, spokeswoman for the Tallinn-based "Lets do it - World Cleanup 2012" told AFP.

"We aim to expand the project to at least 70 more countries," Urm said, as Estonians were getting ready for a clean-up day in their country Saturday.

Friday was cleaning day in Finland while activists in Russia and Brazil are using the Internet to plot clean-ups for May 15, Urm said.

After the success of "Let's do it" in Estonia in 2008, when 50,000 volunteers deployed using the Internet managed to collect 10,000 tonnes of illegally dumped trash in one day, organisers are now hoping to get 300 million people in 100 countries to collect 100 million tonnes of trash in 2012.

In 2007, Estonian Internet gurus Ahti Heinla - a moving force behind Skype - and Microlink founder Rainer Nolvak used Google Earth and GPS-equipped mobile phones to map and photograph 11,000 illegal garbage dumps across all 45,227 square kilometres of Estonia and then directed an army of volunteers to collect the trash.

"Our aim was not only to clean, but also to return people the feeling that it's not only politicians who have responsibility, but that all of us can take action," Toomas Trapido, a former Estonian member of parliament for the Greens involved in the initial clean-up, told AFP.

"By now Estonia's best practice has been followed by 1.5 million people in 11 countries, including Portugal, Slovenia, Ukraine, Romania but also in India, Cambodia and elsewhere," he added.

The World Cleanup 2012's web site is http://www.letsdoitworld.org/

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