Planting trees the right way

5 min readMar 20, 2020

By Will Baldwin-Cantello, Lead, WWF Global Forest Practice

Marisela and her son walk through a forested area of their family farm, checking on new trees they’ve recently planted as part of a reforestation programme in Guaviare, Colombia. © Luis Barreto / WWF-UK

Planting a tree is a universally recognised act — it’s a symbol of caring for our environment. From presidents to primary school children, we all want to get involved.

On Saturday, we will celebrate the International Day of Forests, an annual event that raises awareness about forests.

The theme this year is forests and biodiversity, linking to the UN conference later this year where governments will agree on global goals and targets to halt and reverse the alarming loss of nature worldwide. This — combined with an international awakening to the climate crisis, and that next year we will enter the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration — has triggered a groundswell of interest in forest restoration and reforestation.

Planting a tree is a tangible way to respond to the climate crisis and to connect with nature.

© WWF / Simon Rawles

But how can mass mobilised tree planting contribute towards global goals on climate change and reversing the loss of nature? I spoke to experts who concur that for tree planting to have tangible benefits, it must be done in consultation with local communities, have broad political support, done in the right place, and be complemented by strategies to protect existing forests and reduce carbon emissions.

Tree planting by the masses
In 2017, an event in India broke the world record for the number of trees planted in one day. Across the border in Pakistan, over 1 billion trees were planted as part of a multi-year initiative. WWF-Pakistan’s Conservation Director, Rab Nawaz, says leadership from both the federal and provincial governments played an important role in engaging the public and helping exceed Pakistan’s Bonn Challenge commitment. There was so much enthusiasm that “one of the challenges was meeting demand with a supply of seeds.” And the social and political success of this initiative has enabled it to grow into a new nationwide pledge to plant 10 billion trees.

At a global scale, our Trillion Trees partnership between WWF, BirdLife International and the Wildlife…


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