In 2007 a nine year-old boy in Germany was given an assignment in school to write a paper on the issue of climate change. Not long into his research, Felix Finkbeiner discovered the story of Wangri Muta Maathai, the Kenyan hero who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her Green Belt Movement that has been responsible for planting over 30 million trees across Africa to fight deforestation and soil erosion.
Trees lower carbon dioxide emissions, and thus diminish the Greenhouse Effect.
Inspired by this great woman, young Felix decided that the rest of the world needed to follow suit. His initial goal was to plant 1 million trees around the world. On March 28, 2007 Felix planted his first tree at his school, and Plant-for-the-Planet was born.
Supported by his parents, who are both environmental activists, as well as his classmates and his school Felix began to visit local schools, and helped them start tree-planting drives. A website was developed that taught people how to plant trees, provided information about environmental issues, and gave links to like-minded organizations.
Soon the local media picked up the story, and in just three years Plant-for-the-Planet had planted its 1 millionth tree in Germany alone.
Felix was invited to speak at conferences in South Korea, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Italy and China. And in 2011 he addressed the United Nations, challenging the adults in the room to “stop talking and start planting.” By that time, Felix had also established an international youth board made up of 14 representatives from eight different regions around the world to facilitate tree plantings, grow the dialogue about environmental concerns, and empower more youths. Currently, over 100,000 children are participating in the mission of Plant-for-the-Planet in over 190 nations.
His belief—adults alone cannot be trusted to make the changes necessary.
The United Nations Environment Program was so impressed with Felix and his organization it turned over management of its own Billion Tree Campaign, an incredibly effective tree-planting program in its own right, to Plant-for-the-Planet soon after his U.N. speech.
The number of trees planted since Felix planted his first tree in his elementary school’s courtyard is 14,201,740,128. His goal is to have 1,000 billion trees planted worldwide by 2020.
Is anyone questioning that this advocate for Mother Earth will reach that number?
Felix Finkbeiner is a hero you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.