5 Organizations that Plant Trees: How to Choose in 5 Steps
Trees are a secret weapon in the fight against climate change.
Because trees do more than just give us shade… they draw carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, provide habitats for animals, and balance ecosystems that impact global weather patterns.
Many people wonder if there are dedicated organizations that plant trees… and the answer is yes.
But… choosing the best one (where your support will have the biggest impact) can be tricky. Fortunately, we’ve made it easy!
Planting Trees Can Save the Planet?
With global warming becoming an increasingly worrisome issue, trees have the potential to provide a solution. If half a trillion trees were planted worldwide, they would reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by about 25%, which negates half of all human-produced CO2 since 1960.9
So, trees have the potential to turn back time and erase some of humanity’s mistakes.
Even if you can’t plant a sapling yourself, there are many ways to support forest restoration and related projects that offset CO2 emissions.
Check out these awesome groups!
8 Billion Trees
This operation has one of the most ambitious goals of the world’s most prominent tree planting movements to date, and it’s evident in their name: planting 8 Billion Trees. With their efforts in large-scale tree planting and conservation aimed at fueling advantageous, sustained environmental change, the members of 8 Billion Trees have been helping to heal the world’s forested habitats and wildlife since 2018.
So far, they’ve funded the planting of 4,063,017 trees and helped conserve over 166,000 acres of forest toward that goal to date. Along with these initiatives, 8 Billion Trees also helps operate wildlife conservation and rescue efforts near the Amazon Rainforest.
Monthly donations are used to establish and develop nurseries and environmental research centers, as well as designated planting sites. Supporters can partner with 8 Billion Trees in these extraordinary efforts by buying the company’s merchandise, or purchasing specific carbon offset packages.
The organization also offers unique opportunities for businesses to shrink their carbon footprints, such as their Climate Plus Program. By enrolling a specific construction project or construction firm in the program, you can earn carbon credits through your support of 8 Billion Trees’ afforestation and reforestation activities.
The group has partnered with organizations and governments all around the world to maximize its ecological reach across the following countries:
To start your journey toward a more sustainable lifestyle, learn more about your carbon footprint, check out their carbon calculator, which shows exactly how much CO2 your current lifestyle emits, and how many trees you’d need to plant to become carbon neutral.
The Nature Conservancy
Like 8 Billion Trees, The Nature Conservancy also holds a highly ambitious goal of planting a massive number of trees to save the planet as we know it.5 More specifically, this organization is working to plant one billion trees worldwide by 2025.
Its inception began in 1951, but was officially launched in 2008, starting with the restoration of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. Since then, The Nature Conservancy has expanded to the United States and China, paying particular attention to areas where the forested land has been severely damaged.
This organization’s efforts are both present- and future-focused, aiming to make the planet stronger now and ensuring that the restored habitats will survive for many years to come. The Nature Conservancy leverages its wealth of experience and authority in the industry of environmental conservation to complete this critical work.
Plus, The Nature Conservancy is a registered 501(c)(3), which means you can claim your donations as deductions on your federal taxes.
H2: Arbor Day Foundation
The Arbor Day Foundation began in 1972 on the centennial observance of Arbor Day.6 To date, the Arbor Day Foundation has helped plant over 350 million trees worldwide. The organization’s work is driven by the idea that trees are the key to an eco-friendlier, healthier future for humanity. This work has two main facets: conservation and education.
With conservation, the Arbor Day Foundation supports and leads the restoration of various forests and improves tree cover in global communities. Some of these programs include:
- Alliance for Community Trees
- Replanting Our Forests
- Rainforest Rescue
- Conservation Trees
They also provide a wealth of educational programs for youth and adults:
- Tree Line USA
- Tree Campus Higher Education
- Tree Campus K-12
The Arbor Day Foundation also provides opportunities for corporations and individuals to offset their carbon footprint and earn carbon credits through their Forestry Carbon Credits program. Since this organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, you’ll be able to claim donations on your taxes.
Trees for the Future
Trees for the Future is more people-focused than the average tree planting organization.7 Although their work does indeed benefit the environment, the company’s primary goal is to end hunger and train farmers to get the most of their land by regenerating its health and self-sustaining qualities.
This training extends over four years and is available through their program called the “Forest Garden Approach.”7 While they hone their skills, farmers plant several thousand tree seeds to restore the soil’s nutrient content.
Once the land has regained its health, the farmers can grow much healthier crops. Ultimately, this boosts the agriculturalists’ revenue and expands public access to food.
So far, Trees for the Future has planted 191,000,000 trees and restored 26,786 acres.1 The organization’s work has positively impacted 151,025 and surely countless more beyond what the records show. In fact, numerous families reported that their training and mature gardens cultivated through the educational program fed them through the pandemic.2
Partnering with Trees for the Future is a step toward ending hunger worldwide by increasing food security and improving nutrition for entire communities. This organization’s education ensures that farmers can support themselves and their families with a higher income and, more importantly, that all these benefits last for generations.
American Forests is another one of the United States’ oldest national non-profit conservation organizations.8 It started in 1875 and was even integral to creating another historic environmental establishment, the U.S. Forest Service.
As the name implies, this organization focuses on forests in the United States exclusively. Active members are focused on reforestation from coast to coast, through all sorts of landscapes, urbanized and rural.
By 2030, American Forests aims to have planted at least four billion trees nationwide, specifically across 16 million acres of North America’s land. Furthermore, the company intends to help 100 American cities achieve a passing Tree Equity Score and provide forestry jobs to at least 100,000 people.
(American Forests developed the Tree Equity Score to address racial and economic disparities in tree distribution across American communities.3 This allows accurate prioritization of tree planting efforts, ensuring the communities with the greatest need for trees get them first.)
Joining American Forests gives you the option to support their tree planting work through the urban forestry program,4 Community ReLeaf, help pro-environmental political activity, and even join employer-matching gift initiatives.
Steps to Choosing the Best Tree Planting Organization for You
Clearly, there are several options out there to support tree planting efforts to ensure a greener, healthier tomorrow. You may not be able to donate to them all, so here are some tips to help you choose the best organization for you.
1. Check the Types of Donations Allowed
Not all tree planting organizations allow donations in the same way. For instance, some companies might take donations as an add-on to a purchase or simply allocate a portion of the transaction to a project of your choice.
On the other hand, you might prefer to make a one-time donation without buying anything or subscribing to a regular contribution plan. You might also be able to offer both cash and non-cash contributions, which must be treated differently on your federal taxes. See what the company has available to determine what works best for you.
2. Ask About Limitations for Donors
Before you commit to a specific tree planting organization, make sure there won’t be any limitations that stand in the way of your support. For instance, there might be a minimum donation requirement that exceeds your budget or requires a different payment frequency.
You’ll also want to watch out for caveats like the organization’s tax status. A 501(c)(3) designation means you’ll be able to claim your contribution on your federal taxes.
Make sure to check their refund policy and read the terms and conditions before signing up, as well.
3. Verify Financial Transparency
An environmental organization’s financial transparency is critical. You not only want to be sure that your money is being used appropriately, but that it’s being distributed fairly across projects.
Ideally, if you choose a non-profit organization, they will have their financial report available somewhere on their platform. If the organization is not a registered non-profit, it doesn’t need to disclose such information. In this case, an absent financial report is probably not a sign of a lack of transparency.
4. Research the Organization’s Tree Planting Projects
This step is dual purpose, because it exposes you to the work the organization is doing and requires discernment to determine whether the projects are legitimate or not. The most critical project characteristics to look for include:
- Listed as an official partner with notable international charities and NGOs (non-governmental organizations)
- Projects have been mentioned on the news in some capacity
- Any governmental contracts or agreements should be clearly listed on the platform
5. Ensure the Projects Align with Your Values
If the program you donate to aligns with your values, whether they are helping people, wildlife, or Earth’s many ecosystems, then it’s the right choice for you.
With so many ways to offset CO2 emissions, afforestation and reforestation efforts are among the most effective and accessible. Beyond reducing carbon dioxide emissions, they also pay back ecological debt by helping animals, rebuilding ecosystems, and restoring habitats.
To help save the world’s forests and all life that depends on them, get involved with a tree planting organization today and join the fight to save the planet.
1Trees for the Future. (2020). 2020 impact report. Retrieved June 20, 2021, from tree.org: https://www.trees.org/2020impactreport/
2Trees for the Future. (2020, October 19). 2020 impact report introduction [Video]. Retrieved June 20, 2021, from youtube.com: https://youtu.be/hMQs6nFj1aM
3American Forests. (n.d.). Home. Tree Equity Score. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from treeequityscore.org: https://www.treeequityscore.org/
4American Forests. (2021, June 15). Tree equity in America’s cities. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from americanforests.org: https://www.americanforests.org/our-work/urban-forestry/
5The Nature Conservancy. (2021). Retrieved June 29, 2021, from nature.org: https://www.nature.org/en-us/.
6Now is the time. The time for trees. Buy Trees and Learn About Trees – Visit our Online Nursery. (2021). Retrieved June 29,2021, from arborday.org: https://www.arborday.org/.
7Trees for the Future. Trees For the Future. (2021, January 11). Retrieved June 29, 2021, from trees.org: https://trees.org/.
8Home. American Forests. (2021, June 22). Retrieved June 29, 2021, from americanforests.org: https://www.americanforests.org/.
9Buis, A. (2019, November 11). Examining the Viability of Planting Trees to Help Mitigate Climate Change – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. NASA. https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2927/examining-the-viability-of-planting-trees-to-help-mitigate-climate-change/.