This app lets you plant trees to fight deforestation


(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kate Whiting, Senior Writer, Formative Content

Planting trees to save the planet just got a whole lot easier – no gardening gloves required.

A new app from the young people behind the Plant-for-the-Planet Foundation means anyone can now help with the world’s reforestation efforts, in just a few simple clicks.

The Plant-for-the-Planet app is part of the Trillion Tree Campaign, which grew out of the UN Environment Programme’s Billion Tree Campaign, launched in 2006.

Plant-for-the-Planet founder Felix Finkbeiner (centre) poses with the planting team.
Image: Plant-for-the-Planet


The destruction of forests generates almost as much greenhouse gas emissions as global road travel – but, as the demand for food production grows, deforestation continues apace.

According to the UNEP, trees are the cheapest and most effective means of binding carbon dioxide, so the more trees there are growing on Earth, the better we can hope to mitigate the climate crisis.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about deforestation?

Halting deforestation is essential to avoiding the worst effects of global climate change.

The destruction of forests creates almost as much greenhouse gas emissions as global road travel, and yet it continues at an alarming rate.

In 2012, we brought together more than 150 partners working in Latin America, West Africa, Central Africa and South-East Asia – to establish the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020: a global public-private partnership to facilitate investment in systemic change.

The Alliance, made up of businesses, governments, civil society, indigenous people, communities and international organizations, helps producers, traders and buyers of commodities often blamed for causing deforestation to achieve deforestation-free supply chains.

The Commodities and Forests Agenda 2020, summarizes the areas in which the most urgent action is needed to eliminate deforestation from global agricultural supply chains.

The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 is gaining ground on tackling deforestation linked to the production of four commodities: palm oil, beef, soy, and pulp and paper.

Get in touch to join our mission to halt to deforestation.

Tree-mendous effort

The app has 50 reforestation projects in developing countries to choose from. For just over $3, you can ‘plant’ a tree in Brazil, or for $108, you can plant 1,000 trees to restore the landscape of Indonesia – and the money goes straight to the tree planters on the ground.

And if you do want to get your hands dirty, the app also lets you register trees you’ve planted yourself, with photos and locations, as well as organise tree-planting competitions among schools or at work.

Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, says: “Widespread restoration requires us to reach out to large numbers of people, cost-effectively and quickly. Apps like this can go a long way to boost nature-based solutions for climate action, livelihoods and sustainability.”

Image: Trillion Tree Campaign

The late environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai inspired the UN’s original global tree planting efforts, with the words: “When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and the seeds of hope.”

It launched in November 2006 and, such was its success, the billionth tree was in the ground by November 2007.

In January 2007, then nine-year-old German Felix Finkbeiner gave a presentation to his classmates on global warming and suggested children should plant a million trees in every country. This became Plant-for-the-Planet.

In 2011, the UNEP handed over the Billion Tree campaign with its official tree counter to the Plant-for-the-Planet Foundation, which plants a tree on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula every 15 seconds.

App-ily ever after?

Felix Finkbeiner poses with the Plant-for-the-Planet app.

The foundation realized 10,000 similar projects could restore a trillion trees, so they focused on scaling up reforestation efforts by sharing their tools with others, including an app to collate projects together.

The app’s lead developer, 24-year-old Sagar Aryal, has been planting trees with Plant-for-the-Planet for more than 10 years, as one of 81,000 young people from 73 countries involved in the foundation.

Aryal says: “With the late Wangari Maathai in mind, I’ve poured all my heart and soul into this app for the past two years. I hope she would be happy and proud of us.”

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  1. Erik van Lennep says:

    Nice one! But it’s more than planting that is needed here. We need *survival* and maintenance of those plantings, and we need the species selections and groupings to be biodiverse. I’m curious how the programmes supported by the app will monitor and report on follow-up, survival over the first few years, etc. A trillion dried up seedlings will amount to less than straw scattered in the wind unless the goal is defined as actual forest recovery rather than net amount of seedlings planted.

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