Dec 2022 / Blog / Q&A / Responsible Influence

Tree-Nation: the social network dedicated to reforesting the planet

Kolsquare recently partnered with global reforesting tech solution Tree-Nation to offset the company’s CO2 emissions and incorporate action to fight climate change into its daily activities. In this interview, Tree-Nation Climate Growth Officer Olivier Gantois outlines the NGO’s strategy for planting 1 trillion trees by 2050, and how companies can play a vital role in the mission.

What is your mission at Tree-Nation and how do you plan to achieve it?

Our main mission is not to offset CO2 emissions, but to reforest the planet. There are several issues to solve around climate change but one of the biggest causes is deforestation. 

We believe that one of the biggest solutions to fight climate change is planting trees. To do that we need to automate as much as possible so that we can work in big volumes. Our ambition is to plant 1 trillion trees before the end of 2050. For that we need to use technology. We create new tech tools all the time. For example, our platform can connect with any type of e-commerce so each time you sell a product or a service, you plant a tree. But we do talk about offset for a reason: people come to us first because they have in their mind the idea of offsetting their CO2 emissions, but they leave with the idea of planting a tree. 

Digitalising trees was something that didn’t exist before we invented it. We digitize every tree that we plant and offer companies the ability to use the digital tree which can be placed anywhere in the roadmap. The digital tree acts like a certification with a unique ID number that geo-localizes where it has been planted. 

These digital trees can be used to solve problems. Say you have a CRM and one of your bottlenecks is to close a deal. We’ve got an API which can be linked automatically to any software so each time you close a deal, you say we will plant a tree for the client, or the employee. Our message is that people can use planting trees to solve problems. If you are conducting a marketing survey, offer to plant a tree for every form that is filled in. That’s automation; one click, one tree planted, one tree certificate received and you start your own digital forest. 

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How do you choose which tree-planting projects to support?

We are the link between the tree-planting projects and the companies. We’ve got more than 141 active projects around the world, all of which have gone through a huge onboarding process that takes a minimum of three months. 99% of them are NGOs; we act as a certification, or a guarantee that the project is real. We have a special contract with them. That’s the first part, and then our job is to get funding for the project to really plant trees. So we certify the project, and we also help them to be sure that the money they receive is legitimate and there is no interference between the project and the companies. 

How important is it for companies and individuals to be able to choose which projects they support, rather than just donating a lump sum?

Our entire DNA is to be very transparent by providing the truth and detailed data. On our platform, you can choose the project, the species and the volume you want to plant. For each project, there is a lot of information: where the site is located, when’s the best time to plant, which species is most appropriate, and the benefits of the project. Because it’s not just a question of giving money to plant trees. Every NGO has what we call key elements which can be environmental, social and economic. We have some projects in Africa, for example, where we focus on gender equality and which employ women who need jobs to be more independent. So you will be part of that. Even if you start by only planting one tree that costs €0.50, from the moment you plant the tree you will start receiving weekly or bi-weekly content and information directly from the project. So the aim of your tree planting could be gender equality, poverty relief, or fauna conservation. There are a lot of elements around each project that help people to make a choice according to what they want to achieve, whether it’s fighting climate change or helping a community in other ways

We have actually more than 500 projects asking to join our platform, but it takes time because we need to analyze everything to be sure and to certify  that the project and the money will be really used for whatever they say they are going to do.

What role does the social aspect — liking, commenting, sharing on projects — on the Tree-Nation platform play?

We’ve actually got new features coming soon around that. But the first thing to know is that when you give a tree, you leave a comment. For every tree planted there is a comments section. You give a tree to your family or friends with a comment, and the person who receives the tree can comment back on it directly. Usually they say ‘thank you’ because it’s very nice to receive a tree. People love it. Our platform is the first social network that is not based on selfies, or taking pictures, it’s based on planting trees. Companies love it because they can directly interact with their customers. You can talk to your customers in a different way than on other social networks. The digital tree becomes something much more real because although the real tree is very far away and you can’t touch it, you can like, comment and share on your digital tree. It becomes addictive, which is what we want. We want to make planting trees addictive. 

What’s next for the development of Tree-Nation? Is the goal of 1tn trees by 2050 realistic?

We think we’re on a good track. The key is execution. We’ve got 12,000 companies signed up and over half a million citizens. We are growing 150% annually and the team is growing at 50%. Gamification is our secret weapon and we are developing more and more new services. Why gamification? Because if people are playing, it makes them happy to plant trees. Fighting climate change does not have to be cloaked in disaster and bad things, we prefer to do it in a better way. To make it fun to save the planet so that people keep repeating the plan. And it’s easy. It’s just one click to create a free account and start planting trees.