Yes, you read that right – International Day of Forests. Uh huh, how cool! I mean, a whole day dedicated to raising awareness about trees!!! Okay, it might not be as sexy as St. Valentines, or as fun as World Book Day (if you like dressing up as a character from a book, that is), but for tree lovers like us, the recognition by the United Nations in 2012 to celebrate and raise awareness of forests around the world is a great leap forward! And certainly, it gives us another chance to celebrate and trumpet our 2017 #BecomeOneOfTheMillion campaign, in which we continue to strive to plant trees on every habitable continent in the world.

So where are we three months into this campaign? Well, as one might hope, there is lots of good news!  We continue to grow the three projects we support in Africa, closely working with WeForest and The Eden Projects, planting just over 50,000 trees to date. For this small team of tree-hopers, this is definitely something we are proud of! Yes I know - not quite as impressive as the 50 million trees planted in ONE DAY in India by an army of 800,000 volunteers (how did they do that?), but in our own little way, a significant contribution. The question now is how we move forward? How do we get, to borrow from the title of Karen Blixen’s novel, Out Of Africa? 

Well, there are plans afoot, but putting down roots for our tree march across the globe takes time – yes, if I’m honest, more time than I had first imagined. It is not as easy as I thought it would be – simply phoning up the first tree-planting organising we come across and asking them to plant millions of trees all over the continent. No. On the contrary, that phone call is only the first step in a long line of things which need to happen before we commit to anything. For example, next we have to verify and qualify how reputable that organisation is – we want to find out how they plant trees, who plants the trees, do they support local communities, do they use natural seed dispersal methods, do they look after their samplings into maturity. Do they, don’t they, how they, and many more. Lots of questions, needing lots of answers. Those answers help us determine how we weed the good from the bad, the trustworthy from the disreputable, the wheat from the chaff. And so it all takes a lot of time and patience.

But it looks as though we have a contender for a new partnership in North America. The Arbor Day Foundation seems to offer everything we’re looking for – a good reputation, a robust tree-care package, a dedication to carbon-offsetting, a commitment to both rural and urban forestation, and a programme for training and working with local communities. The whole package. Yes, I know they say don’t count your flowers until they bloom, but this sounds like an exciting foray into North American tree planting. We should know more soon, so follow the #BecomeOneOfTheMillion blog series to see how this new chapter unfurls.

Until then, don’t forget that 21st March is the International Day of Forests, so get out there and enjoy the trees! Celebrate with us. Take a Tentsile or a friend (or both!) and visit a nearby forest! And to make this more fun, to make this more exciting, for every single one of you that shares a photo of yourselves on social media enjoying a little local woodland - using #BecomeOneOfTheMillion – you will get a free entry ticket into our Birthday Giveaway. We’ll even plant 10 trees for each snap posted, so help us celebrate this international occasion in style – and together we’ll make the forests grow. Do your bit -  #BecomeOneOfTheMillion.

Jethro Shirley-Smith