Reforesting the Planet – Our Partnership with One Tree Planted

Planting trees helps to fight climate change and is an important practice in sustaining our environment. Simple, but true. This is the belief of Matt Hill, founder of One Tree Planted, a non-profit organisation that works to reforest areas of tree loss around the world.

In 2014 we reached out to One Tree Planted, creating a partnership with them to raise funds towards the reforestation of areas in Africa and North America. Together over the years, we have planted 100 acres of trees – doing our bit to reforest the planet, one tree at a time. But with the current rate of deforestation and increase in extreme weather events (like the recent forest fires in California) there’s still much more that we can do to help.

 

One Tree Planted girl planting tree sapling

Why we chose to support reforestation

“People don’t realise how important planting trees is for the environment”

Aside from the obvious reasons, like trees releasing the oxygen we need to breathe, trees are instrumental in fighting the effects of air pollution and greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 18 million acres of forest are destroyed every year. This can be for several reasons, including forest fires, drought or unsustainable agricultural practices.

one tree planted quebec forest

If the current rate of deforestation continues, it is believed that in less that 100 years, we will have lost all our rainforests. This is a scary thought, with deforestation threatening not just our own lives but those of millions of animal species.

“People don’t realise how important planting trees is for the environment” says Matt. Whilst planting trees may not prevent forest fires or extreme weather events, reforestation organisations work to educate communities and businesses on sustainable practices and can help to mitigate the risk of mass tree loss.

 

Supporting reforestation in Northern California

California is currently experiencing the largest forest fire ever on record, the result of long periods of extremely dry hot weather. More than twice the area that was affected in 2017 has been covered in fires this year

Trafalgar and One Tree Planted have supported reforestation in Northern California for the last few years. The donations made through One Tree Planted so far have been used to support various local organisations that work in tree planting and research.

northern california forest fires

Researchers have been looking into how some tree types have adapted to survive the increasing risk of forest fires. In some cases, there is no need to replant after a fire, as the trees are strong enough to withstand the burn and still drop seeds to replant.

“It’s getting so dry in California, with more and more forest fires. We’re not saying that we can prevent these things from happening, but what can we do to reduce the risk?”

For example, in California, there are certain seed zones which require specific trees to be planted based on the elevation and surrounding areas.

“It’s getting so dry in California, with more and more forest fires. We’re not saying that we can prevent these things from happening, but what can we do to reduce the risk?”

In Florida, organisations funded by One Tree Planted looked into which trees had withstood the recent hurricanes, so that tree planters could start planting more of the same resilient tree types. These actions may seem small but they are yet another way in which organisations like One Tree Planted can make a difference.

Around the world, the One Tree Planted projects each have a different story and reason for the loss of trees, with different levels of support required.

“All our projects are great for different reasons, but some projects really do need the money, as they are so small.”

 

What does it take to plant a healthy tree

Planting the tree in the ground is only one part of the process. The benefit of working with organisations like One Tree Planted, is that they make sure that the trees not only go in the ground, but that they are healthy and maintained.

Tree planting is hard work, so a large part of the money raised goes towards hiring professional tree planters, who are paid on production, or towards an incentive scheme for local communities.

“We use professional tree planters to give proper instruction to the volunteers, ensuring that the trees have the best chances of survival.”

“The ongoing part is for that person who goes out to monitor the trees’ progress and provides the incentive for communities to help the trees survive – it makes so much more sense.”

tanzania kilimanjaro one tree planted

In developing countries, organisations often have to rely on the local manpower to sustain and nurture newly planted trees, which also requires education and support in the local community.

“We teach the farmers not to cut down wood for immediate income, but to make sure that they’re cutting down one and planting two. We teach agroforestry; how they can get seeds and fruits, not just wood and timber to sell.”

Educating communities about sustainable agroforestry

One Tree Planted have a set of criteria for the selection of organisations that they work with, one of those being the involvement of the local community.

“Everyone has to work with the local community. If you don’t involve the local community in your mission, you could risk the project being sabotaged or come up against resistance.”

It’s important that once the trees are planted in the ground, the project is not abandoned. Without care and monitoring, trees can get eaten by the livestock or don’t get enough water to survive. Organisations like One Tree Planted also invest time and resource in the education of local communities.

For Matt, the education component is important, as talking about the benefits of trees being a sustainable model for a livelihood can help the environment as well as having a positive social economic impact.

“We look at the community and make sure it’s a sustainable project that is ongoing. When we’re planting in places like Haiti or Africa, you can’t just drop in the tree saplings to plant. We teach the farmers not to cut down wood for immediate income, but to make sure that they’re cutting down one and planting two. We teach agroforestry; how they can get seeds and fruits, not just wood and timber to sell.”

The impact of corporate social responsibility programs on reforestation

Having come from an environmental sustainability background, Matt founded One Tree Planted with the goal to make it easier for companies to plant trees, and in the process, help smaller organisations with their mission.

“On Earth Day we rallied 300 people to come out that day to plant 5,000 trees. It was an amazing day, and we’re doing it every Earth Day from now on.”

“We want to make it simple for people to understand forestation projects and easy for them to help: donate one dollar to plant a tree.”

One Tree Planted saplings Tanzania reforestation

Trafalgar donate money towards a fund for Tanzania or Northern California, so when a group from the local community contact One Tree Planted for a donation towards planting trees, the funding is already there to support. Matt and One Tree Planted have hosted a number of events where people are invited to volunteer for the day in a specific tree-planting location.

“On Earth Day we rallied 300 people to come out that day to plant 5,000 trees. It was an amazing day, and we’re doing it every Earth Day from now on.”

But in tandem with a monetary contribution, Matt explains how important it is that companies provide an incentive to their customers and employees, encouraging people to make a lifestyle change that positively impacts the environment. One example of this was Trafalgar’s move in encouraging their customers to opt for e-documentation, in return for a tree donation being made.

With more consumers opting to buy from companies that are doing something for the environment, Matt hopes that there will be a shift towards bigger and better corporate sustainability programs, with more emphasis put on environmental practices and more support for organisations like One Tree Planted.

“I’ve noticed that SMEs are a lot more willing to make an impact and a difference. We now need the big companies with the big budgets to get involved too.”


We are committed to sustainability and helping our guests to make a difference through travel. Together with One Tree Planted, Trafalgar has planted 100 acres of trees across Northern California and Tanzania. Visit our website to find out more about our partnership with One Tree Planted and our mission to save the world’s forests, one tree at time. 

© Images courtesy of One Tree Planted