Treeferral is a new initiative that wants to massively accelerate tree planting projects around the world – by using the lure of a financial reward.
Trees are one of the simplest and most effective solutions to the climate crisis, but we need to drastically ramp up reforestation – and afforestation – efforts if trees are to capture and store a significant amount of the carbon that we humans have pumped into the atmosphere. The team behind Treeferral wants to help, with their new initiative that combines a tree planting subscription service with a classic referral programme, for, ideally, ultimately impact.
According to Treeferral’s website, signing up to plant a tree each month will cost you as little as one euro per tree. Get a friend to donate by sharing your unique referral link, and it will cost you even less. Or, to be more accurate, 40% of the money that your friend donates by using your link goes directly back to you. Your friend will, in turn, receive their own unique referral link, meaning they are also incentivised to share the link among their friends. And so it goes on. Subscribers can choose to donate 3, 5 or 10 euro a month, or alternatively, choose a custom amount of trees to plant each year.
Treeferral hopes to plant one million trees this way, and since its recent inception it has made a good start, with 21,000 trees planted to date. “Honestly when we started we didn’t even think we’d get 100 trees planted,” says founder Liam Hänel, “but now with the new referral scheme I’m feeling more optimistic we’ll reach our million tree goal.”
Treeferral works with a number of reforestation projects across the world, including most notably Eden Reforestation Projects, which are famous for their mangrove planting projects in Madagascar, Indonesia and elsewhere. Half of each donation goes directly towards tree-planting, while another 40% goes to a range of organisations working towards climate solutions, and 10% goes towards the costs of running the scheme.
The Treeferral idea is a recent development, only two months old, representing a shift from Hänel’s original concept Plantyflix, which Reset covered in April last year. Plantyflix encouraged people to donate to plant trees to make up for the carbon emissions created by their Netflix use, which was understood to be particularly pressing at the time as it coincided with the first Corona lockdowns where more people than ever were streaming content. “We wanted to get people to continue to think about the problem of the environment, even though we had a much more immediate problem to deal with,” explains Hänel. However, calculations by the International Energy Agency were later published suggesting that the impacts of video streaming – although significant – were perhaps not quite as damaging as previously thought, which encouraged him to switch to the new Treeferral concept.
Hänel recognises that there could be some obstacles to the Treeferral idea catching on – in particular because for some people it might seem strange to be incentivising good deeds by appealing to self-interest – but ultimately he is happy about the switch, “The financial incentive isn’t necessary, but we think it will help spread it wider, faster,” he explains.
Treeferral isn’t the only innovative solution supporting reforestation efforts around the world. In the past we’ve reported on a new tree planting credit card, an programme that lets you plant trees to offset your own personal carbon emissions and a productivity app that plants trees as you increase your focus at work.