Key allies in our fight against climate change and its impacts, trees also provide social and economic benefits to the communities in which they grow. This organisation is making tree-planting around the globe as easy as a click of a button. Now we can all be (digital) farmers, from the comfort of our chair...
Founded in 2010 in Florence, Treedom is an online platform that enables you to have someone plant a tree for you, or for someone else, and then to watch its growth online. Trees are planted by local farmers at numerous projects in Africa, South America and Italy, and every tree is geo-localised, photographed, and even comes with its own online page, making it easy to engage people into its life, and into the ripple-on effects it has on those who tend to it.
Whether Orange, Mango, Avocado, Cacao, Coffee or Moringa Tree – to name but a few of the species available for planting through the platform – all species on offer are chosen for their environmental, social and financial benefits. Indeed, Treedom works with local farmers and NGOs to ensure that tree species are appropriate to local contexts and of value to local communities.
Digital planters can find information about each tree species' benefits and characteristics, together with images, to help them decide which one to go for. On the website one can see for example, that the Mango tree not only provides food, but in its life can also capture some 1543 lbs of CO2 (equivalent to the average amount of carbon produced by a person in 52 days), and is also considered sacred by the Hindus.
Treedom project locations include Haiti, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, as well as Italy. On the platform, information is provided about each project, such as for example 'Libera Terra', near Naples in Italy, a social, environmental and economic development agroforestry initiative - on a land confiscated from the mafia - that seeks to skill up and inspire local unemployed youth, to reconnect them to nature and to promote local economic development in harmony with the environment.
Registering an online profile enables users to purchase their tree, follow its progress online, have their name on the tree together with any messages/dedications, and as mentioned, they can also give their tree as a gift to someone else. Through a carbon calculator, they can also keep an eye on the carbon footprint associated with a number of activities, such as travelling, eating and drinking, water and energy use, etc.
These same features make the platform very appealing also to corporate users, both as an employee engagement, and a Corporate Social Responsibility tool. Indeed Treedom features also a business page, highlighting the business benefits of corporate involvement in the initiative. Add to it its 'B Corp' status - “B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems” - and its partnerships with a range of global sustainability actors, such as the UN Global Compact, it is no surprise that Treedom has been able to engage many corporate stakeholders onto its program.
Since its foundation in 2010 in Florence, Treedom has helped plant more than 250,000 trees in Africa, South America and Italy. As deforestation continues to make room for agriculture, mining, industry or cattle, and as the impacts of climate change increasingly affect people and planet, this project offers a simple and effective engagement tool for individuals and corporates, and can help bring tangible environmental, social and economic benefits to the communities involved.
However, to avoid the risk of complacency such an approach may engender – and to ensure that the tool is not just a fantastic PR opportunity for companies - needless to say, it must fit within a broader corporate sustainability focus that includes also sustainable purchasing decisions and supply-chain, fair wages, green travel policies, waste minimisation policies, and a support for renewable energy in general.