Photo: © Erika Nortemann/TNC

One Billion Trees: Expanding Global Forest Conservation

One billion trees. 

Even for someone who, everyday, deals with the science and mathematics around the question of how many trees can we plant to help save the planet, one billion is a hard number to comprehend.

It’s planting one million trees one thousand times. That’s a lot of trees.

But the Earth’s forests need our help: Forests are being cut down and cleared at the rate of 32 million acres worldwide every year.

They’re being converted to other uses such as development, agriculture and plantations; they’re being fragmented — chopped up into small sections that become unsustainable habitat for important species; the natural processes that some forests need, such as fires and flooding, have been altered; and introduction and spread of tree pests and diseases threaten to global forests.

And we need forests: Trees and forests help sustain all life on Earth.

They are the source of clean water for millions of people around the globe, and provide clean air and climate control.

In 2008, The Nature Conservancy launched the Plant a Billion Tree program in Brazil to address the urgent issue of deforestation in the Atlantic Forest — a forest that is a mere shadow of what it once was, with 90 percent of its original cover gone from the Earth.

Since then, Plant a Billion Trees has raised funds to reforest almost 14,000 acres of land in the Atlantic Forest, planting and protecting over 14 million trees. But Brazil isn’t the only place on the planet where forests are threatened, and so the Conservancy identified other priority and threatened landscapes to be included in the Plant a Billion Trees program.

On April 25 we launched the expansion of the program to include large-scale forest restoration projects in the southeastern United States and China, and expanded the work in Brazil. The goal of the program is to plant and restore over 1.6 million acres of forestlands around the globe, with over 1.2 billion trees growing by 2025.

The interactive maps on provide detail on where these projects are located and why we chose these sites for restoration work.

In expanding the program, we chose existing large-scale forest restoration projects that were located in landscapes that have an important diversity of plants and animals, and that are important to local economies.

This initial phase of expansion will include four projects in the US, two in China and two in Brazil.

The Plant a Billion Tree campaign at its core is about restoring critically important forest systems around the globe for the benefit of people and nature.

The support we receive from this campaign will be used to enhance the Conservancy’s ability to restore more acres more quickly.

Forest restoration is more than putting a seed in the ground; it involves a suite of restoration techniques that include tree planting, site preparation and stewardship, prescribed burning, restoring proper hydrology, creating the conditions for natural regeneration, and other techniques to restore these forest systems over time.

I’ve seen first-hand what this kind of work can do — work that involves multiple partners with a common goal, using funds and support generated by you — people that care about our global forests.

Last fall the Conservancy worked with the Longleaf Pine Project, the National Arbor Day Foundation and 4 local non-profit tree planting partners to plant over 130,000 trees in the southeastern states, 3 national parks in California and Washington and in 4 cities (Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco) with the support of Odwalla and Target.

Funds from Plant a Billion will continue this kind of work around the globe. Help us plant a billion trees. Your gift helps plant trees and restores critical forests around the globe.

Bill Toomey is the Conservation Science Lead for Plant a Billion Trees

Opinions expressed on Conservancy Talk and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conservancy


If you believe in the work we’re doing, please lend a hand.


  1. great to give to something renewable.

  2. I have some 125 acres of undeveloped land …. want to grow a jungle on it … then there will be 175000 less 1 billion left to plant..(i got the land …any one got the trees ??).

  3. I GOT THE TREES!!!,

    My name is Austin Wilkins and I am the project director of Pluvia Semini. Pluvia Semini, a project nicknamed ‘Lungs of Fruit’ involves widespread seeding of native trees across public and private lands. Pluvia Semini (‘seed rain’) is short for seminalem pluviam which is latin for ‘seeded rain’. This is exactly what we’re after. Pluvia Semini aims to improve California’s environment to the degree of permanently increasing annual rainfall.

    We are based in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of Northern California. Pluvia Semini employs hundreds of plant species throughout thousands of acres. During the fall we broadcast our seed directly to the land. Preserving the plants pristine tap-root, to be far more tolerant of drought and other stressors. Our chosen native tree species for each climate require zero irrigation, and no maintenance in general after seeding.

    I am 22 years old and I was born and raised in Northern California. I would like to present my project as material for a news piece. With truly unknown levels of pollution and increasingly sporadic weather conditions. I think it is very critical to inspire my generation towards the necessity, of: cleaning our air and water. While providing self-sustainable food production and localized economy. The manner of my presentation and specific details of my project are geared towards displaying highly applicable ecological practices. Almost like a “tool and nail” kit to integrate into the common sense of everyones day (tree seeding + watershed management).

    Thank you for your time, kind regards,
    Austin Wilkins, Project Director

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