When YouTuber Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson started his #TeamTrees campaign in October with the goal of raising $20 million dollars for reforestation (after crossing 20 million subscribers), little did he expect his campaign to gain the kind of traction it did, and that too in such little time. The campaign got support from some of YouTube's most established stars and reached its goal by December 2019.
MrBeast's viral tree planting campaign will now make it possible for upwards of 21 million trees to be planted across the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, and the United Kingdom. As per his campaign, every dollar raised would plant a tree.
According to The Arbor Day Foundation, the environmental organization that Donaldson partnered with, planting all the trees shall not be completed before the end of 2022. The first round of tree-planting is expected to start this year, with 400,000 trees to be planted in the Cauvery River Basin. California will get 100,000 trees, while 350,000 trees will be planted in Kenya’s Kijabe Forest.
The Arbor Day Foundation confirmed to The Verge that the Cauvery Calling campaign is its official partner in India, saying: “By improving soil health and increasing the availability of clean water, planting trees will contribute to the overall well-being of the area. We are confident in Cauvery Calling’s commitment to and capability of planting the right trees, in the right places, for the right reasons”.
Geography is key to reforestation efforts. Planting trees in places laces that have lost trees to development or fires gives optimal results but planting new trees where they don't naturally grow may threaten the local ecosystem.
Specifically, in California, the reforestation drive will replenish the green cover which was lost when the State was ravaged by wildfires in 2018. About 8,000 fires destroyed more than 1.8 million acres of forest, including the Camp Fire, which was recorded as the most destructive wildfire in California's history.
In a video promoting the #TeamTrees campaign, YouTuber Mark Rober said: “We know that 20 million trees aren’t going to cure climate change, but the point here is to end this decade on a super strong note... It’s a constructive way to send a message to the politicians, ‘it’s freaking time to do something about climate change.’... Plus we just really love trees so this is like a fist pump to mother Earth...”.
When it comes to tackling Climate Change, efforts must also be made to ensure that the trees being planted are healthy and survive for at least as long as the carbon they store would have stayed in the atmosphere (about 100 years).
Update: In September 2019, a coalition of Indian environmental groups had called on Leonardo DiCaprio to stop supporting the 'Cauvery Calling' tree-planting initiative in the Cauvery River Basin, alleging that it might dry up streams and rivulets and wreck wildlife habitats. Cauvery Calling has shared an official statement with News18, which says, "The Cauvery Calling campaign is a comprehensive plan to plant trees on a portion of private farm land in Cauvery basin districts. The fundamental principles of Cauvery Calling have been supported by both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments." They also go on to say, "In the entire proposition of Cauvery Calling there has been clear articulation of where agroforestry is to be promoted- on agricultural land. There is not a single mention in the entire Cauvery Calling rally or in the documents submitted to government and our publications that we suggest the same on either Government-owned land on river banks or forest land or grasslands." The Cauvery Calling also say that, "We have proven this model on the ground over 18 years with 69,760 farmers in Tamil Nadu. Most of these farmers now have fully mature trees that have become high value assets which can be harnessed. Many of these farmers have also harvested these trees and have re-planted them seeing the increase in their income anywhere from 300% to 800% percent."