Interview with Matt Hill, Founder of One Tree Planted

We are delighted to continue our partnership with One Tree Planted, a non-governmental organisation that restores forests and creates habitats for biodiversity while promoting a positive social impact around the world. Committed to global reforestation, One Tree Planted wants to make it simple for anyone to help the environment by planting trees. Below we hear from Matt Hill, Founder of One Tree Planted.

Why is reforestation critical, and what drove you to become involved?

Over the past few decades, reforestation has become an increasingly prominent solution for addressing a range of environmental challenges related to climate change. And with good reason: trees help absorb carbon from the atmosphere, improve soil quality, clean water, prevent mudslides, provide a healthy habitat for wildlife, and offer many additional benefits – for nature, people, and biodiversity. Reforestation is also a logistically viable, actionable, and affordable solution. Whether it’s a student planting one tree because they enjoy the outdoors or a company planting thousands to help support global sustainability efforts, it all adds up to more healthy forests, meaningful work, and knowing that you did the right thing.

I founded One Tree Planted with the goal of making it simple for anyone to help the environment by planting trees. While managing a sustainable food-packaging company and representing manufacturers, I developed relationships with many businesses and learned that there are a ton of companies that want to help the environment, but either don’t know how or believe it’s too difficult. That’s really what encouraged me to start One Tree Planted as a way to offer businesses an easy way to give back and help the environment by planting trees.

What’s the greatest vision or ambition for One Tree Planted?

Our vision is simple: to plant trees everywhere that needs and can support reforestation. The impact of the trees we plant differs with every project, but whether it’s restoring old-growth forests or empowering smallholder farmers with life-changing sustainable agroforestry trees, we’ve seen time and time again that when the right trees are planted in the right place, for the right reasons, and at the right time — they have the power to transform communities and ecosystems for the better.

And how does that vision tie in with the work you’re currently doing on the ground?

Since we began, in 2014, we’ve planted over 40 million trees around the world. But as we often say, reforestation is about more than planting trees or reaching a certain number. It’s about growing healthy forests. We’re proud of our network of reforestation partners who bring local expertise to the table, as well as our internal projects team, which is made up of experienced forest restoration professionals and mapping experts who are directly involved in facilitating good outcomes. Together, this allows us to scale sustainably, reach new communities, and create opportunities for social, economic and environmental impacts. Because ultimately, that’s why we’re doing this: to be part of the solution and make a positive impact on our planet — and future generations.

Tell us about your partnership with Ultima.

We recently had the chance to meet the Ultima team in London and saw the commitment they have to having an impact. Ultima is about people enjoying beautiful and special places, therefore the connection to protecting special places is strong. They also give their guests the opportunity to support our work and raise awareness about the importance of restoring our ecosystems. We’re grateful for their support in Romania, Iceland, Italy and Denmark, and look forward to growing our partnership over time.

Besides planting of trees, what else is One Tree Planted doing to raise awareness surrounding climate change?

The climate crisis is so big that it’s hard to wrap your head around it, but planting a tree is one simple act that anyone can do. While our on-the-ground work is laser-focused on restoring ecosystems and uplifting communities, we also work to spread awareness about climate change and other environmental issues. Everything we share is intended to inspire people to make a difference for the planet - whether by planting trees with us or taking other simple actions in their own lives and communities. We’re also dedicated to educating the next generation through our T.R.E.E.S. School Program, which brings environmental education into Grade School, High School and University classrooms and campuses with free lesson plans, activities, and resources for teachers and students.

How can reforestation make the world a healthier place to live? And what kind of positive impact does it have on the planet’s ecosystems?

All of our projects are guided by what we call the six pillars of reforestation: supporting our planet’s life support systems for clean air, water, biodiversity, climate, health, and social impact. Healthy trees and forests play an important role in creating the systems needed to support all life on our planet. Here are just a few ways that trees support the six pillars:

  • They absorb air pollution and release clean oxygen for us to breathe.
  • They help combat climate change by fixing carbon in their roots, trunks and branches.
  • They capture rainwater and reduce the risk of natural disasters like floods and landslides.
  • They provide habitat to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
  • They support an estimated 1.6 million livelihoods.
  • They support human health by providing key ingredients in 25% of all medicines.

What small things could guests at Ultima do to make their own daily positive contribution to the fight against climate change?

No action is too small. From planting a tree to spreading awareness or buying food that’s grown locally, anyone can make a difference. Over time seemingly small changes or actions can add up to a massive positive impact for the planet.

How can the luxury-travel industry help protect the environment for future generations?

Whether it’s by supporting reforestation efforts or helping to conserve beautiful places, there are many ways that the luxury-travel industry can protect the environment. The industry can also encourage travellers to visit destinations that have policies in place to support sustainable economic growth and provide opportunities to protect local biodiversity, historic sites, and ways of life that might otherwise be lost.