July 17, 2023

How One Tree Planted is Making Reforestation Accessible Around the World

Author National Philanthropic Trust

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote in 1937, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” Over 85 years later, that profound message feels more important than ever.

According to a 2020 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, deforestation and forest degradation is happening at “alarming rates” and since 1990, “it is estimated that 420 million hectares of forest have been lost.”

Whether an individual wants to get involved by planting a single tree in their neighborhood park, or an organization wants to plant hundreds of thousands of trees in the Amazon, the nonprofit One Tree Planted is there to guide them in doing just that. Established in 2014 and headquartered in Shelburne, Vermont, One Tree Planted has a mission to “make it simple for anyone to help the environment by planting trees.”

Laura Johnson, the Major Gifts Officer for One Tree Planted, explains that the organization does this by finding and vetting planting projects from around the world, collaborating with them and getting these initiatives in motion.

Even if a donor doesn’t have a particular place or a project in mind, Johnson assures they are flexible and can “support a project that is shovel-ready and available for funding, or if they want to plant trees but don’t have a project available, we can source it for them.” She adds, “We work with local experts on the ground, all while addressing really urgent issues like wildfires and extreme climate events.”

To date, these projects and collaborations have resulted in the planting of millions of trees worldwide. In 2022 alone, the nonprofit reports having planted 52 million trees while working in 74 countries and 238 cities.

In addition to mass tree-planting on a global scale, the organization also focuses on community events, including those that focus on urban forestry. Trees planted in underserved communities in cities, which often have low tree canopy cover, “address social equity issues,” Johnson says, adding, “It cleans the air, water and wildlife habitat. It’s really impactful.”

Another key aspect of the work done by One Tree Planted is their environmental education programs, created for both teachers and students alike to, as Johnson puts it, “grow the next generation of environmental leaders.” This includes Little Tree Huggers, their small grant which gives children aged 5-12 the opportunity to “bring their sustainability ideas to life.”

These efforts are made possible with the support of volunteers, business partners and, of course, donors. Long-term giving and unrestricted giving from donors are, Johnson explains, “very important for One Tree Planted because it allows us to have the flexibility to be reactive and address large-scale reforestation. This, in turn, creates programs that help all our planting partners.”

One Tree Planted reported $111,975 from donor-advised funds (DAFs) in 2022. Johnson says that DAFs are particularly helpful when it comes to “building the technical capacity of our partners, growing and monitoring our impact assessment program, our environmental education programs and community events.”

For donors supporting One Tree Planted, Johnson says the organization keeps it simple: “We plant trees, and you make a difference in communities.”

Photo courtesy of One Tree Planted.

About the Author

Aly Semigran is a Content Specialist at National Philanthropic Trust. She has been writing and editing professionally for over 15 years, with articles in Billboard, Well + Good and Mic, among many other notable publications. In addition to her editorial background, Aly is currently getting her Master of Social Work degree from Temple University. She resides in Philadelphia with her dog.