American Forests and the Catholic Church are working together to plant 100 million trees in the United States and Africa by 2030. Doing so aligns with the Catholic belief that material reality is a conduit of divinity embodied in nature. Participants will have the opportunity to plant trees in a way that experiences this directly. Each tree planted is called a “Laudato tree,” meaning it was planted by someone seeking to experience God through nature.
This project is part of the global Laudato Tree movement, inspired by an encyclical letter from Pope Francis that calls on humanity to care for our environment, the climate and those most affected by climate change. The purpose of the movement is to increase food security, restore degraded lands, slow climate change and create job opportunities that advance economic and social justice.
In the U.S., we are focused on planting trees in cities, particularly in low-income communities and neighborhoods of color where trees and their benefits are often more sparse. We are encouraging Catholics to plant or help others plant at least two Laudato trees in these neighborhoods. We also are going to create tree nurseries in cities so there is enough supply of trees to meet the demand.
American Forests and the Catholic Church will solicit funding to plant several million trees along Africa’s Great Green Wall — a nearly 5,000-mile-long wall of trees in the Sahel region of Africa, one of the poorest places on the planet. Approximately 15% of the wall has been created since the project began in 2007.