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In Memoriam of Wangari Maathai

Why and how do we plant a trillion trees? And which tools invented by Plant-for-the-Planet should help tree planting projects around the globe to scale up? At the Global Landscapes Forum, Climate Justice Ambassador Paul introduced the Plant-for-the-Planet Apps that make tree planting easier than ever before.

Watch Paul’s video or read his message below!

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Hi I am Paul, I am 15 years old, and I am an Ambassador for Plant-for-the-Planet. I have been standing up for climate justice since I was 10. How did it all start? The founder of Plant-for-the-Planet – Felix Finkbeiner – some of you might have met him last year – was only 9 years old when he founded our organization.

Back in 2006, the ‘Billion Tree Campaign’ was initiated by Wangari Maathai, our mama Mati and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from Kenya who planted 30 million trees in only 30 years. After Wangari passed away, the UNEP handed over the campaign to Plant-for-the-Planet and us children.

We extended the Billion Tree Campaign and called out for a trillion trees and the Trillion Tree Campaign at the UN General Assembly in 2011. Since then Felix and us children have motivated young people, organizations, governments and international stakeholders all around the world to stop talking and start planting.

But calling out for trees is not enough. Moreover, we wanted to enable transparent data collection to make reforestation efforts and their impact verifiable and visible. To ensure scientific monitoring, Plant-for-the-Planet motivated the young scientist Tom Crowther from Yale University in 2013

1. to map the existing global tree density

2. investigating whether a trillion trees could be planted and

3. how much CO2 they would absorb.

Plant-for-the-Planet supported Tom to build up the Crowther Lab at ETH Zürich, ensuring scientific visibility and measurement of our tree planting impact and asked him to share this knowledge to the broad public.

So, what’s next?

We children motivated people to plant trees all over the world, we asked questions nobody could answer us, we encouraged people all around the world to join us on our journey and now, we want to help providing new opportunities on how to plant trees in the future – together with you. Calling for a trillion trees, Felix presented our Plant-for-the-Planet App version 1.0 at this very forum last autumn in New York.

We believe that this app is our modern tool and solution to Wangari’s calling! I can use this app to plant trees, compete with my friends, who is planting the most trees, or just give a tree to my grandmother for her birthday! I can choose to support tree planting organizations from all around the world and learn about their projects on the app.

We already succeeded to plant some million trees with this very app, 23% on our own project on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and 77% on projects of our colleagues. The app is open source, we do not take any cut from neither the donor nor the tree planting projects and we do not use any data of our users. Standing together as a global community, we can achieve our goal to plant a trillion trees by 2030!

But we want to do even more.

Our goal is to make reforestation transparent for everyone.

From smallholder farmers, large scale reforestation organizations and the donors who want to support reforestation initiatives in the global south, we want to make sure that it is as easy as it can get to register, and get information about the progress on reforestation initiatives worldwide. In the last year, we’ve heard from many of you how difficult it is to accurately get the polygon data, collect pictures and upload them from remote planting locations. We want to solve these problems. We want to make reforestation transparent and trackable for everyone. This is why we will soon launch the Tree Inventory App, as an extension to the Plant-for-the-Planet App.

One of the special features of Tree Inventory allows our users to record precise on-site GPS by allowing him/her to walk around the planting site. Let me show you how it works:

If I’m at the first location… I can take a picture, walk to the next location, take a picture… and when I’ve come to the last corner of the planting site, I can mark it done. That’s all.

Then you can add further details, for example how many, or which kind of trees you have planted.

The data is safely stored in the app, and can later be exported or synced to the Plant-for-the-Planet Account once you’re connected to the internet. To make it even easier, we will always allow you to export the data and enable connections with other applications that could use the data for monitoring and analysis.

This means, the data collected by tree Inventory can be used by Drone Mapping applications, in the future, that could allow you to autonomously fly a drone over a certain area. It could also provide Satellite Monitoring or CO2 calculations, all of which will reduce frictions on transparency and allow us to know our forests better.

As we are part of the UN Environment Programme, Tree Inventory will be available for everyone free of charge, and with full data protection and security – whether you are planting trees in your private forest, planting trees as a part of a government campaign, or receiving donations on the Plant-for-the-Planet App.

We’ve been testing the prototype on a project on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and the results have been overwhelming. Plant-for-the-Planet is inviting additional projects in the next few months, and will make the Tree Inventory available for everyone later this year. On Yucatán we ourselves are restoring an area of over 20.000 hectares of degraded forests as our own reforestation project, having more than 100 workers in the tree nursery and the planting area. Together with our neighbours that own degraded land as well we want to restore 100 million trees until 2030. But we need 10.000 planting projects like ours.

On our App more than 60K Users are supporting about 100 tree planting organizations from all around the world. With your help it can be 10.000 planting projects soon. This is our tool to stand together to plant a trillion trees! With this app and the Tree Inventory in the pipeline, we want to ensure transparent data collection to make reforestation efforts and their impact verifiable and visible. As you can see, we are combining all our forces to ensure that we stop talking and start planting! 

Why are we doing all this? Of course we know that landscape restoration is more than forests and forests are more than trees, but planting new trees

1. is the easiest way to give us time in fighting the climate crisis,

2. trees are the biggest stimulus programme for the Global South,

3. trees are peacemaking in memoriam of Wangari Maathai,

4. and we as the young generation will have a future.

What could you do now?

1. Download the app,

2. upload as many projects for reforestation as you want,

3. use our Inventory Program to report in a transparent way to your donors,

4. and share the app in your community.

Let’s plant a trillion trees together! Stop talking. Start planting.

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