The Billion Tree Campaign Reaches Goal of Seven Billion New Trees: Global Climate Change Initiative Inspires Millions in Run-up to Crucial Copenhagen Conference


The campaign to plant seven billion new trees as part of an effort to encourage governments to reach agreement on a climate change pact in Copenhagen this December has achieved its goal, the United Nations (UN) announced on September 21, 2009.

The campaign to plant seven billion new trees as part of an effort to encourage governments to reach agreement on a climate change pact in Copenhagen this December has achieved its goal, the United Nations (UN) announced on September 21, 2009.

The global public’s desire to see action on climate change was clearly spotlighted on September 21, 2009 with the announcement that the Billion Tree Campaign has reached 7 billion trees—one for every person on the planet.

Koelreuteria paniculata (Goldenrain tree, Pride of India, varnish tree, or China tree) is a species of Koelreuteria native to eastern Asia, in China and Korea. It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 17 m tall, with a broad, dome-shaped crown. Text: Wikipedia. Koelreutheria paniculata Photo by Sten Porse from Wikipedia.

This milestone was reached with the news that China has planted 2.6 billion trees as part of the campaign, bringing the total to 7.3 billion trees planted in 167 countries, according to a news release issued by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).


Over the past three years millions of people ranging from scouts to presidents and from schoolchildren to city dwellers and corporate heads have been rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty for the environment through tree planting.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP, said: “Seven billion trees, seven billion commitments to action and seven billion reasons why governments should be inspired to Seal the Deal at the crucial UN climate change convention meeting in Copenhagen in less than 80 days’ time.”

“When this campaign was launched in 2006, there were those who said it could not be done. But day after day and week after week, people have got out into their gardens, parks and cities and into the countryside and the rural areas to prove the doubters wrong,” he added.

“Above all the Billion Tree Campaign shows that the simple act of planting a tree resonates and unites the child in the slums of Africa with a president in Mexico, or a corporate CEO in Paris with UN peacekeepers in Timor-Leste. It is the kind of solidarity that now needs to be expressed at the level of all governments and heads of state between now and December in order to move economies towards a low carbon, sustainable path,” said Mr. Steiner.

The Billion Tree Campaign was launched jointly with the World Agroforestry Centre during the UN climate convention meeting in November 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya, under the patronage of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai and His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Its initial goal was to catalyze the pledging and the planting of one billion trees as a way of giving public expression to the challenges of climate change and also forest and ecosystem degradation.

Since then the Billion Tree Campaign has more than surpassed its aims, evolving into a true ‘People’s Campaign’ – more than half (52 per cent) of all the participants are private individuals.

Furthermore, tree planting has become both an inter-faith and an inter-generational activity, with the trees symbolizing connections between children and parents and bringing together people from different religious backgrounds.


Highlights of the Billion Tree Campaign


"Proving true its motto that ‘Every tree counts, and we count every tree,’ the Billion Tree Campaign’s phenomenal success is a result of the participation of people of all walks of life and from every corner of the planet," UNEP reported.

In the past eight months China planted 6.1 billion trees, of which 2.6 billion have been given to the Billion Tree Campaign. The government planted 260 different species of trees in eleven provinces around China, from Inner Mongolia to Yunnan and from Shandong to Sichuan.

A number of other countries around the world have planted impressive numbers of trees since the campaign was launched.

Countries that have planted more than a hundred million trees range from Ethiopia (with 1.4 billion trees) and Turkey (with 711 million trees) to Mexico (with 537 million trees) and countries including Kenya, Cuba, and Indonesia.

In addition to encouraging governments to take concrete action to reforest their lands, the Billion Tree Campaign succeeded in catalyzing tree planting from all walks of society, bringing together creative, original and pioneering initiatives around the world.  

To name a few:


  • The Replant New Orleans Initiative sponsored a planting of fruit trees to help breathe new life into a community struggling with the aftermath of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina;
  • The Greening Soweto Campaign is transforming dustbowls into treed 3 lanes in Soweto by capitalizing on South Africa’s preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup; and
  • 132 children in 56 countries have pledged to plant a total of one million trees as part of the ‘Stop talking, Start planting’ campaign, which was started by an eleven year-old boy.


The economic gains of tree planting are powerfully illustrated by the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative. This North American organization is not only close to planting 38 million trees in the Appalachian region, but also devised a green job tree planting proposal to stimulate the economy of Appalachia and reap the ecological benefits of a region-wide reforestation effort.

The Campaign has mobilized groups and individuals in post-conflict areas around the world, bringing the seeds of hope to communities in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, Liberia and Somalia, among others.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has planted 9 million trees in and around refugee camps around the globe, helping to plant hundreds of thousands of acres of trees in Asia and Africa since the 1990s.

The United Nations Departments of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Field Support (DFS) have also participated in the campaign, with thirteen peacekeeping missions having pledged 117,848 trees. Of this number 33,184 trees have already taken root across various countries hosting peacekeeping missions. The campaign, which encouraged the planting of indigenous trees appropriate to the local environments, has not only witnessed the participation and enthusiasm of UN staff, but also of the local communities in the different areas of operation.

The private sector has become a key player in the global campaign, accounting for almost 15 per cent of all the trees planted. Multinationals from Accor to Bayer and from Toyota to Coca-Cola East and Central Africa and Yves Rocher have been active tree planters, along with hundreds of small and medium-sized companies the world over.

The campaign’s universal appeal is clear from its success on social networking sites, with some 4,000 blogs adopting the cause early in the campaign.

Achim Steiner said: "When we first launched the Billion Tree Campaign in 2006, people truly responded. At first they planted hundreds of trees, then it was thousands, and then millions-and then we reached 1 billion trees. Then we made the bold decision to issue a call for the world to plant 7 billion trees, one for each person on the planet. And our target even got exceeded: the counter now stands at 7.3 billion trees.

His Serene Highness Albert II, the Sovereign Prince of Monaco and the campaign's co-patron, said: “I have always had a strong belief in the symbolic strength of the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign and I am delighted that it has exceeded our greatest expectations, far beyond the welfare linked to replanting trees, to benefit future generations.”

Prince Albert saluted Professor Wangari Maathai and said: "We have reached the 7 Billion mark - this is a huge success and I am honored to have been part of this. This campaign has made it possible for representatives of civil society, Heads of State and children to take action together."

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, the founder of the Kenyan Green Belt Movement and the campaign’s co-patron, said: “Let’s plant even more trees to celebrate this wonderful achievement, the fruit of collective action from people all over the planet. By making the Billion Tree Campaign such an incredible success, people from every continent are calling their governments to truly start caring for the planet and to find unity in the fight against climate change.. ..On the week that the world leaders congregate at the UN, this is a great demonstration to our leaders that we care about the environment …. I hope we take this commitment to Copenhagen to get a fair deal on climate change. Through the Billion Tree Campaign, we show that we want to save the planet - for ourselves, for our children and for our grandchildren."


This article is based on news from UNEP and from the UN News Centre.


See related article on Horizon International’s Horizon Solutions Site:

Planting a Billion Trees Campaign is Launched by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Everyone in the world can join together to fight against climate change. The campaign to plant a minimum of one billion trees in 2007 in order to contribute to meeting the climate change challenge calls upon all sectors of society to help.

Latest articles


Air Pollution



Endangered Species




Global Climate Change

Global Health


Natural Disaster Relief

News and Special Reports

Oceans, Coral Reefs



Public Health



Toxic Chemicals


Waste Management


Water and Sanitation

Yale Himalaya Initiative