In Madagascar, where 90% of the country’s forests have been lost to deforestation, the tech company Salesforce is working with a nonprofit to pay workers to plant and protect 10 million trees. In Australia, it’s paying to restore 30,000 native trees on degraded farmland. In Latin America, it’s funding more than 600,000 new trees in six countries in the Andes. In Tanzania, it’s helping fund the natural regeneration of 800,000 trees. In areas destroyed by wildfire in California, it’s helping support work to replace thousands of trees with species that will be less likely to burn in the next fire.
A little over a year ago, the company pledged to support the conservation and restoration of 100 million trees by 2030. It also partnered with the World Economic Forum to bring together companies, governments, and nonprofits around the much larger goal of planting and protecting a trillion trees by the end of the decade through a new platform called 1t.org. Today, Salesforce announced the first milestone in its internal plan: So far, it has funded 10 million trees in 19 different projects.
Like other companies funding massive tree projects—such as Apple, which poured money into a 27,000-acre mangrove forest in Colombia in 2018, among other projects—Salesforce recognizes the potential of trees to help fight climate change by sucking up CO2 from the air. By one estimate, there are nearly 1 trillion hectares of land on the planet where 1.2 trillion new trees could be planted, potentially sequestering around 200 gigatons of carbon. Other scientists say that those claims are overstated, though it’s inarguable that protecting existing forests and planting new ones will play a major role in whether the world can reach a goal of net-zero emissions. And many companies are fully embracing the strategy, even as they deal with challenges such as how to track what’s happening in distant forests and ensure that trees that are planted now remain standing in the future.