“Our generation is facing the most dramatic and life-changing threat ever encountered by any human civilization. It becomes obvious we should not stand still while witnessing the irreparable destruction of our ecosystems. There are dozens of changes in our habits we urgently need to undertake. However because we mostly live in urban environment we often forget about our indirect impact on Nature and particularly on forest ecosystems. Yet deforestation accounts for about 17% of climate change.” -Maxime Renaudin
In a decisive effort to take action against climate change with reforestation projects globally, Maxime Renaudin founded Tree-Nation, a planting community comprised of planters, companies, and citizens around the globe who team-up with Tree-Nation to develop high-quality reforestation projects in order to fight climate change, deforestation, and help local economies.
Interview with Barcelona based Tree-Nation founder Maxime Renaudin
When did you found Tree-Nation?
Maxime: I had the idea of Tree-Nation on the first of January 2006. I guess lots of ideas that are born after a New Year celebration are as quick to vanish as they appear. But, somehow, this one wouldn’t go. When I was telling my friends that I wanted to plant trees, I remember I had to explain ‘why?’ every single time. The same year, a few months later, Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary. Then the UNEP, the environment body of the United Nations, released a Billion-Tree Campaign which was a massive success. We were one of the first organisations to join it. I can say this changed the public opinion. A year later, when explaining what Tree-Nation was, I kept starting by explaining why we should plant trees but people would just stop me and say, ‘I know’, like it was something really obvious.
What compelled you to found Tree-Nation?
Maxime: I couldn’t stop talking about this idea of planting trees to my girl-friend (who later became my wife). She got bored and told me, ‘Either you do it or you stop talking about it’. That’s all I needed, I guess.
So I started to do some research and contact experts and forestry scientists just to make sure that planting trees was a viable option. The more I would learn about trees, the more obvious it became.
Were you previously involved in reforestation projects? If so, was establishing Tree-Nation a sort of synthesis of efforts you had been working on?
Maxime: Not at all. I just knew I wanted to dedicate my life to something that made sense. Somehow, I think having a fresh look on this topic was really helpful to bring new ideas. Any sort of formal education tries to squeeze you into a specific mold; it shapes the way you think, and this is not always a good thing.
Where was the first collaborative reforestation project that Tree-Nation partnered with?
Maxime: The first project, we didn’t partner, we built it from scratch. In Niger, the poorest country in terms of HDI, and also possibly the most deserted place on earth. It has not one but two deserts (the Sahara and the Sahel). The aim was to plant trees to fight desertification. This was possibly the hardest place to plant trees. And, for us, a great way to learn how to do our work.
How does the Tree-Nation team decide which projects they will work with?
Maxime: We want diversity so we don’t have one specific format. We like to have small scale as well as big scale projects, different planting techniques, different kinds of team structures. We focus more on the general quality of the project and the strong motivation of the team behind it rather than a fixed set of requirements. In fact, it would be impossible to have a unique set of requirements to fit this diverse array of projects.
Are the reforestation projects you work with born solely from Tree-Nation efforts, or are they already existing and they partner with Tree-Nation to further develop?
Maxime: At this stage, we prefer already existing projects, simply because there are already many great projects out there and we can help them increase their capacity faster. Reforestation is a long-term activity so it’s also important to value the team’s commitment over a long period. But we are now also able to accompany a reforestation project from day one.
In the regions where you currently work with reforestation projects, are there some that are in more critical status?
Maxime: Our main focus has always been the tropics. Why? Because this is where deforestation happens. Because the tropics hold 85% of all terrestrial species (at threat of extinction) and also where trees grow faster, hence capturing CO2 faster. However, more recently, we are also recognising a huge threat from our modern agriculture in Europe and North America, in particular. Because of all the chemicals we use (pesticides/ fertilisers), our insects are disappearing: in some places, we have already lost 70% of their population in the last 30-40 years! This is crazy and potentially catastrophic, and we believe we have a great solution to this: agroforestry (in a word, mixing agriculture crops with trees). Every time you see a farmed field with no trees on it, this is nonsense. We have most of our existing landscape to change! But, in general, we need trees everywhere. They bring different benefits to each region.
How many projects is Tree-Nation is currently engaged in?
Maxime: We currently have 16 active projects (and expecting to end the year with 20-25 projects). But we also have many more projects on the Tree-Nation network we are not funding yet. We help those projects getting ready for our funding requirements and we progressively provide them access to funding depending of our global funding capacity.
Would you be willing to share as just words straight from the founder, how you envisioned individuals as well as businesses being able to engage with the platform and support the efforts of Tree Nation?
Maxime: Tree-Nation has been built as a simple tool to allow citizens and companies to easily plant trees and actively participate in the fight against climate change.
Our generation is facing the most dramatic and life-changing threat ever encountered by any human civilization. It becomes obvious we should not stand still while witnessing the irreparable destruction of our ecosystems. There are dozens of changes in our habits we urgently need to undertake. However because we mostly live in urban environment we often forget about our indirect impact on Nature and particularly on forest ecosystems. Yet deforestation accounts for about 17% of climate change.
With Tree-Nation you can plant a tree from your computer, from the comfort of your home or office and help reforest the world. You are 3 clicks away from planting your first tree!
For companies we recommend to bind this action to your business activity. For example if you sell products online you can commit to plant 1 tree for every product purchased. Not only this, you’ll be able to offer the trees to your customers which will just improve their loyalty to your brand.
We believe companies are ideally placed to initiate a drastic change in society and lead the fight against Climate Change. Planting trees is a good and easy first step to kick start your company’s sustainable roadmap.
Visit Tree-Nation online at https://tree-nation.com/
Feature & Interview by Annika Lundkvist at Pacific Roots Magazine Editorial Desk