How To Help The Earth By Planting Trees

by Andi O'Rourke

Anthropogenic, aka human-made, climate change is the defining challenge that today's young generation must come to terms with. This may seem like a daunting task, but there is a simple way that you can help the planet recover. The most fundamental way you can help combat climate change and mitigate the effects of human activity right now is to support sustainable forestry initiatives — or if you really want to do something, plant beautiful, lush trees yourself.

As surprise bestselling author Peter Wohlleben writes in The Hidden Life of Trees, trees are social organisms. Much like with many forms of life, including humans, studying a single tree in sterile isolation, away from other trees, plants, or animals, will produce a limited understanding of what exactly the very essence of a tree is. If that sounds a bit too esoteric, consider the life's work of Jadav "Molai" Payeng, an Indian man who, beginning in 1979, single-handedly helped nurture a thriving 1360-acre forest on a formerly desolate plot of land near his ancestral village in India.

Supporting sustainable forestry procedures, including restoring existing habitats in your own community, is vitally important work. And perhaps most importantly, it is not hard to do.

Support American Forests


The Arbor Day Foundation is one of the oldest non-profit groups dedicated to tree-planting efforts. A core part of its mission is providing low-cost trees for planting, which, in essence, means subsidizing the cost of trees so that more can be planted. One way to support the foundation's work is to make a donation to the General Tree Fund. You can also choose to donate to forests that are in specific need, like in Central Arkansas or Northeast Mississippi, among others. The Arbor Day Foundation also supports reforestation efforts on federal lands that have been damaged by wildfires, insect infestations, and disease; for every dollar spent to rescue national forests, one tree is planted.

Protect Vulnerable Rainforest Ecosystems


Another non-profit supporting sustainable forest management and renewal is the Rainforest Alliance. It works to provide financially viable alternatives to economic activities that harm rainforests, like logging, mining and tourism. One way to support its work is to look for Rainforest Alliance-approved products that harvest sustainably and finance habitat restoration. Another is to become a social media advocate for rainforests by following and sharing news. You can also donate directly to the Rainforest Alliance, or remember the group next time you're planning a charity fundraiser.

Organize In Your Community

Dimas Ardian/Getty Images News/Getty Images

One U.K.-based women's group, Tree Sisters Seeding Change, has decided to take matters into its own hands and crowdsource funding from over a thousand backers to revive rainforest habitats in South America. While this collective effort has incredibly lofty goals, you can still take a leaf from the Tree Sisters' book and plant a tree in your neighborhood with your friends or family this spring. Better yet, organize into teams and see who can collect the most money for reforestation efforts near you — then roll up your sleeves and get to work! The Arbor Day Foundation even has an online store where you can shop for trees and find ones that are a good fit for your area.

One largely unreported initiative that came out of the COP21 talks in Paris this past November was the French agriculture ministry's "4 per 1000" plan. French scientists claim that by promoting smart agricultural practices, including sustainable forest management principles, it is possible to increase the concentration of carbon in the soil by 0.4 percent each year, not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars in "natural services" — i.e. cleaner air and water — that trees provide. By working to increase tree cover and revive formerly neglected areas of land, you can help increase the capacity of the planet to deal with the effects of climate change.