On World Environment Day–June 5, 2010– EARTH University and its global network of alumni and supporters will plant hundreds of thousands of trees in 26 countries as part of its 20th anniversary commemoration. They’re inviting the rest of us to take part in the event–either by planting a tree, donating U.S.$5 to buy one for planting on the EARTH campus, or planting virtual trees on the university’s website for free.
EARTH’s goal is to give Earth at least 1,000,000 newly planted trees.
EARTH University is a private, nonprofit, international University in Costa Rica. It was founded 20 years ago out of the belief that it is people filled with conviction, capacity, and commitment who can solve the problems plaguing humankind and the planet. The mission of EARTH is to prepare young people from economically depressed communities in Latin America, the Caribbean and other regions, including Africa and Asia, to become catalysts for change in their communities. (Read the National Geographic News story Remote University Cultivating World’s “Green” Leaders.)
Trees that will be plantedÂ by EARTHÂ on June 5 can be purchased on the university’s website for U.S.$5.
Virtual trees can be “planted” on EARTH’s website for free.
YouÂ can plant trees yourself.
Up to 15 virtual trees may be planted at a time on Earth’s website. For every 20 trees planted virtually, a sponsor will donate a real tree, for planting at the university, Mena explained.
“The more virtual trees that get planted, the more real trees are planted on June 5 and make a difference in climate change. Did you know that if every person on this planet was to plant just one tree, we would fix nearly 260 million tons of CO2 annually? That’s enough to offset the annual carbon emissions of Columbia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua combined,” Mena said.
EARTH University received a grant and arranged a barter agreement which allowed for commercial advertising of the event to be shown on CNN International in Latin America in the weeks leading up to June 5.
EARTH Plants the Future is both a symbolic and practical event to address climate change, as it represents the hope for the future and concrete action to mitigate current emissions of greenhouse gases, according to a university statement about the project.
“On the EARTH campus alone, there will be over 1,500 participants planting 16,500 trees. The enthusiasm with which the international community has received the project is very encouraging as well. All over Latin America, countries where graduates are working have organized tree plantings, such as Mexico, Columbia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Bolivia and El Salvador. Graduates working in Uganda, Mozambique and the Czech Republic have organized tree plantings,” the university said.
In the United States, one EARTH graduate already hosted a tree-planting event, on May 7 in Dallas, Texas, where 36 elementary schools from the area (about 18,000 students) participated. Each school planted one symbolic tree and shared the story of EARTH University and EARTH Plants the Future with the students. The trees were donated by the Texas Tree Foundation.
Smaller, local tree-planting events are being organized in Michigan and Florida.
National Geographic stock photo
“If you would like to organize a tree-planting and participate in EARTH Plants the Future–at your home, school, office or in your community–you can,” Mena said. “Plant tree species native to your region and contact EARTH Plants the Future at email@example.com to report the location and quantity of the planting. No matter how small or large the planting,Â every tree counts!
“Reaching one million trees would mean that at least 87,500 tons of atmospheric CO2 will be cancelled out annually,” Mena said.
The event is also intended to raise global awareness of climate change issues and involve corporations, organizations and individuals to participate in an effort to stop global warming and generate support for EARTH University.
In its 20-year history, 1,467 young men and women have graduated from EARTH University, committed to planet sustainability and changing their communities and countries.Â “After receiving an education at EARTH, the students and alumni are prepared to stimulate economic growth through innovative entrepreneurship and to promote environmental stewardship and social well-being in the rural communities of the humid tropics,” says JosÃ© Zaglul, president of EARTH University.