Thank you to my fellow Plant-for-the-Planet Co-ordinator, Mr. Sudeep Ghimire of Nepal who kindly wrote this article about our amazing new app! I have greatly enjoyed meeting Sudeep and the Nepalese team at the Launch of the Trillion Tree Project and also at the recent Global Youth Summit in Bonn, Germany. Looking forward to meeting you again soon, Sudeep!
Global warming was a new idea for me when I was in 6th grade. Astonished by its consequences, I asked my science teacher, “Can the students of our school plant trees?”. My idea was to plant around 500 trees. Unfortunately, the response came in the negative. It would be quite the challenge for us to get the space and ensure the survival of so many trees. Later on, we ended up planting five trees, though only two of them survived. Now when I visit my school, looking at the two trees I feels exuberant. Though I can’t help feeling; what if we had planted 500 trees and managed to get all of them to grow?
Later, planting and advocacy became my fervid fascination. In 2012 I started volunteering with Plant-for-the-Planet by running workshops about Climate Justice called Academies (for 9-15 year-old children) and also by planting trees with school children in my native Nepal and in India. Wangari Maathai and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched Plant-for-the-Planet in January 2007, as part of the Billion Tree Campaign, which was led by 9-year old German boy Felix Finkbeiner and later on this transformed into the Trillion Tree Campaign. Planting trees was always a challenge as it needs appropriate space, the right species and regular aftercare to make sure they grow properly. I figured that out planting trees while ensuring their highest survival rate is rather an engineering challenge!
Since 2007, Plant-for-the-Planet has planted around 14 billion trees across the globe. This was possible with support from donations, governments, corporates and sponsors. The goal is to plant one trillion trees as we still have enough space to plant those trees without using agricultural lands; those trees can absorb one fourth of human-made carbon emission and it is regarded as one of the cheapest ways to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degree Celsius.
Plant-for-the-Planet is planting one tree in every 15 seconds on the Yucatan Peninsula in an area of 22,500 hectares and planning to restore another 68,000 hectares of land all at the rate of just 1 euro per tree which includes nursery and aftercare costs with the survival rate of 94%. With this, they are working towards the goal of planting 100 million trees by 2030. However; planting a trillion trees is still not practical with just this project. We realize the need of 10,000 similar projects of that size to restore a trillion trees.
To address these major challenges, Plant-for-the-Planet came up with an application, the Plant-for-the-Planet app to create a common platform among tree planting organisations to fulfil the target of the trillion tree campaign launched in 2018 in Monaco. Succeeding the campaign, the app was launched on September 28, 2019 at the Global Landscape Forum New York following the Climate Action Summit of the UN Secretary General. The app has currently more than 18,000 users who have already donated more than 900,000 trees through this portal with an average donation of around 45 USD.
For the first time ever, some of the best community-led tree planting projects from 20+ countries came together to deliver a massive boost to the world’s reforestation efforts. Now, with the Plant-for-the-Planet App, everyone can plant trees worldwide with just a few clicks. The best part is that all the money raised goes directly to the tree planters. Plant-for-the-Planet do not take any percentage of the donations, it just provides the platform to make the more afforestation possible. On my travels I have met many people with a similar mindset who wanted to plant trees but were short of ideas or time; this app could add value to what they wanted to do.
Seven young people from Plant-for-the-Planet Foundation have released the ‘Plant-for-the-Planet App’, which allows anyone and everyone to plant trees around the world. The App is part of the Trillion Tree Campaign, which is contributing to global reforestation and climate mitigation efforts. The App is focused on sharing their tools with all other projects as well to help scale up reforestation efforts. It is very transparent with Open Source and Open API where users can plant trees starting from 10 cents to 20 USD. The lead developer, Sagar Aryal; aged 24 and also from Nepal has been planting trees with Plant-for-the-Planet for more than ten years, as one of 81,000 youths from 73 countries. Aryal said “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.Youdon’t have a sapling at hand? Or want to avoid getting dirt under your fingernails? The Plant-for-the-Planet App is your way to help nature recover by selecting from 50 hand-selected reforestation projects from developing countries. The benefits of tree planting are not just for nature, they are also a vital source of income for poor communities generating employment opportunities. Many more projects are coming on-stream.”
The app is very user-friendly to operate, all you need to do is select your favourite project and make the donation. The trees are planted for you, no excuses. Each tree adds to the World Tree Counter. Moreover, there are no extra fees or hidden charges involved for the tree-planting NGOs, donors or anyone else. This app helps to implement the excellent goals of the Bonn Challenge – a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030 – by creating a positive chain reaction. More than 10,000 people signed up to the app in the development phase.
In addition, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen, said “wide-spread restoration requires us to reach out to large numbers of people, cost-effectively and quickly.” She said “Apps like Plant-for-the-Planet can go a long way in boosting nature-based solutions for climate action, livelihoods and sustainability.”
However, with the help of the app, user can plant their own virtual forest which also allows you to see where all your donated trees were planted. You can also register trees you’ve planted with photos and locations and even gift donated trees to others as well. In addition to this, you can start a tree planting competition among schools, with colleagues or friends. Moreover, Tree planting organisations can also register to ask for donations through the app. We believe we are creating a new version of a “Forbes List” which will rank people by planted trees.
Clearly this new development may be the finest piece of tech support in existence to make this world a better place. The Plant-for-the-Planet App is available for Android and iOS users and also can be accessed through the WebApp (www.trilliontreecampaign.org) or www.weplant.app/get. The 2.0 version is expected to be included with a feature that enables users to watch donated forests grow using satellite images.
Mr. Ghimire is a Program Coordinator and Global Board Member of Plant-for-the-Planet which aims to plant trillion trees across the globe. He has over 10 years of experience in Climate Change advocacy.