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Teenager aims to plant one trillion trees
By Jinny Throup
Felix Finkbeiner is a young man of extraordinary ambition whose aim is to restore the world’s forests by planting one trillion trees. This lofty goal started when Felix was just nine years old and was given a school assignment on climate change. His research led him to understand the importance of reforesting the planet to slow down the earth’s warming. He also saw that immediate action was imperative to save the future of his own, and subsequent generations. Naturally articulate and inspirational, Felix’s presentation on trees was a hit, and as a dramatic closing phrase, he laid down the challenge to plant one million trees in his home country of Germany. The world’s media soon jumped on this story of a nine-year old boy with a natural gift for public speaking, and word of Felix’s project spread rapidly. By 2011, at the age of 13, when he was invited to deliver a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, those one million trees had already been successfully planted.
The environmental group he founded, Plant-for-the-Planet (PFP), along with the UN’s Billion Tree campaign, has planted more than 14 billion trees in 130 countries. This sounds impressive, but as PFP’s ambitions expanded, Felix wanted to know if those 14 billion trees would make any difference in terms of keeping up with the continuing deforestation around the world. In the first scientific tree census of its kind, a team at Yale University (US) conducted a two year study which found that the earth has 3 trillion trees and that about 10 billion of them are lost every year.
These findings led Felix and his team to scale up their planting ambitions to a staggering one trillion trees which equates to 150 trees for every person on the planet. These trees could absorb an additional 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. PFP has now expanded into a global network of youth activists who are mostly aged between 9 and 12. “Climate change will affect our generation,” says Felix, “so it is in our own self-interest to get children to act.”