One Billion Tree Challenge

As our attention turns to the greening of our gardens, pause to consider whether you have space in your world for a tree. 2007 marks the official year of the Plant for the Planet:Billion Tree Campaign through the United Nations. This project is based on the incredible work of Wangari Maathai, the inspiring woman who created Kenya’s Green Belt Movement and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. The intention is to support the planting of one billion trees in 2007. That works out to the planting of 1 tree for every 6 people on earth.

So what can I do?

The three P’s … Pledge, Plant, Provide.

Pledge: Log on to the United Nations Site and make your pledge to plant.

Plant: Follow through. Choose your site carefully to ensure that it is most supportive of the tree you are going to plant. Selecting an indigenous tree will ensure that simple strategies and enough space will allow it to grow to it’s full potential. There are many links to the UNEP site that provide excellent information to support you.

Provide: Care for your seedling, nurture it and know that you’ve made a deep and lasting difference. There is no act more symbolic of providing for future generations than the planting of a tree whose greatness will provide shade, air and inspiration for our children and their children.

How many should I plant?

Be creative, be inspired and be responsible … trees need space. Here are some ideas …

1) Plant for yourself. Even planting just one tree will make a difference. One tree in it’s lifetime will absorb 1 tonne of carbon dioxide, will provide shade for other plants to grow beneath it, home for animals and insects, release seeds to grow millions of trees, reduce soil erosion and will eventually create new earth for another to grow in it’s place. With the average North American generating 19.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide and directly impacting global warming … planting one tree is a bargain and an obligation!

2) Plant for your family. Work out how many people are in your family and divide by 6 to meet the 1 billion challenge. If you feel energetic, record your ancestors as well and tack on how many little people you feel you’ll be adding to the world too!

3) Plant for your school. This is an excellent project for schools whose green space is often in need of the cooling shade and gentle inspiration of a tree.

4) Plant for your co-workers. Inspire your colleagues to get behind the project. Calculate how many trees are needed for the number of people employed at your work and add an environmental element to your next staff picnic.

It is often the most simple acts that create the most powerful results. Never underestimate the power of taking one small step… from tiny acorns, mighty oaks grow! As Wangari Maathai shares "When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace, the seeds of hope.”

Asha Croggon is a holistic practitioner and passionate advocate for the environment. She can be reached at