A few weeks ago we wrote an article about the Pasodink medį tree planting project in Lithuania.
We decided to follow it up by talking to Karolis, one of the project team, and asking him a bit more about what they are doing, why it is important, and what motivates them.
The Pasodink medį project is the first of its kind in Lithuania, and is ambitious, inviting and educating. In your opinion, what motivates people to become a part of it?
In our view the key motivational trigger that engages people to support tree planting projects, including Pasodink medi, is the simplicity and impact that supporters understand very clearly. A tree is not only a symbol of life, sustainability, and fresh air, but also a very simple yet very impactful tool to actually make the air fresher and the environment greener. Everybody knows that trees clean air, help combat climate change and people support tree planting but not everyone has a shovel, a plot of land or knowledge of when and how to plant trees - our aim is to close this gap and give people an easy way to support an important cause. As we can see now people are very keen to help, especially if you provide them with convenience.
How was the Pasodink medį project born?
The project was established in the Autumn of 2020 after seeing the success of similar tree planting projects in other countries, and that the ideas of ecology and sustainability were reaching Lithuania at a growing pace. As the project was started with our own funds and resources the development took a while and we are only now catching up with communications and making people aware of the initiative. However, even with low resources we see that people react very positively, are very keen to share the idea with their community and show support.
Why focus on planting trees and preserving forests? After all, many other activities can also contribute to the preservation of the environment.
Looking into the future, we believe in a wider mission for the Pasodink medi project - to spread the idea of green sustainability in general. There are of course many other ways to make a positive impact on the climate and the environment (e.g. recycling, using green energy, reducing consumption). These measures are extremely important, widely known and used by many people, but these are, as we call them, the counter measures - we try to reduce the impact on the environment that is already there and avoid future emissions. Tree planting or saving trees not only has no carbon footprint, but by growing they also reduce the footprint that is already there is the air. Trees also have many other benefits - improved air and water quality, reduced noise pollution, a safe haven for many animals and of course the aesthetic of the environment. Both activities are supplementary so, we always advise - reduce and reuse where possible and plant trees to cover the rest of our carbon footprint.
Lithuania is quite green already, so why plant trees here, and not in areas where deforestation and forest degradation are a particularly acute problem?
In recent years, due to the increase of tree cutting allowances in Lithuania and development of wood-dependent industries, we see the future of the Lithuanian forests as not so green. Even though the area of forests in Lithuania currently is around 30% with the existing cutting allowance it is expected to drop in the years to come. Also looking into the problem from a climate change perspective we see it as a global issue, in other words, it does not matter that much where in the world you reduce the carbon footprint as long as it is reduced. Even if a tree absorbs CO2 here in Lithuania the impact will be global.
You also include a social aspect, people can volunteer and participate in planting activities, why is this important?
We aim to spread the ideas surrounding sustainability wider and engaging with our supporters here is very important. By involving people we believe that our activities will extend even further and make a wider impact, so we aim to involve people and educate them on why, how and when to plant trees. In other words we would like to provide our supporters with the knowledge so they can also plant trees themselves and teach their children.
How are you thinking about biodiversity, native vegetation, and trees that are the best for CO2 storage?
Biodiversity of flora and fauna are very important factors to consider when planting a new forest. Ideally, we want our newly planted forests to border with an existing mature forest and be an extension rather than just a collection of trees in the middle of a field. The new forest must resemble the neighbouring one as closely as possible - have the same combination and proportions of tree species. This way we can expect the new forest to take root quicker, stronger and become a mature forest in the future, and also become a home for the surrounding fauna. The usual types of trees planted are pine, birch, oak, spruce, alder and maple - they all have similar CO2 absorption capabilities.
Why did you decide to start your own initiative instead of joining an already existing big project?
Pasodinkmedi.lt is the first platform and initiative of this type in Lithuania.
What are the best ways to reach and persuade people to contribute and support the project? How are you doing this?
We noticed that people are generally quite keen to support initiatives for good causes and no extensive convincing is needed. Of course people often also want to understand the real impact their support makes. That is why we focus extensively on transparency and traceability of everyone's impact. For every tree purchased and planted we provide a digital certificate in the name of the supporter. Every certificate has a unique ID which is later assigned to one of the newly planted forests. This way every supporter has a proof of their input and knows the coordinates of the land plot where their trees are planted. The convenience of being able to easily support the project and the transparency later in the process are factors that are encouraging people to join the movement.
Among the supporters, we can see kindergartens, schools and other similar organizations, is that inspiring to you?
We are very positively surprised that some kindergartens and schools have also noticed our project and decided to get involved. It is a big motivation and encouragement for us to be able to introduce the tree planting concept to children and hopefully encourage them to mind the environment and give back to the society. This involvement clearly adheres to our mission - to spread green ideas and sustainability, provide easy tools to get involved and make a wider impact.
Is it important for you to cooperate with other organizations in order to achieve the goal that every Lithuanian should "plant" a tree?
Our ambitions reach far - to plant at least one tree for every Lithuanian - over 3 million trees. That would cover an area equal to over 3 000 football fields, absorb over 57 million kilograms of CO2 every year, and become a home for millions of animals, insects and other vegetation. To achieve this ambitious goal we partner with the National Foundation for Untouchable Forests (www.nelieciamasmiskas.lt) in Lithuania to help us with our tree planting project.
How will you ensure that the trees that are planted - the created forests - are protected from mass felling?
The National Foundation for Untouchable Forests in Lithuania work on our behalf to make sure that the all the new trees are planted in land plots that are overseen by the organization. This way we can make sure that the newly planted forests will never be cut or used for any other commercial purpose. These forests will serve future generations as they supposed to - by cleaning the air and water, reducing our carbon footprint, and providing a green shelter for all the biodiversity.
What would you like to wish for your project?
We wish that our effort and work towards planting trees and spreading green ideas will have a real and recognisable impact for the local environment. However, most importantly we expect to "plant a seed" of sustainability, to lead by example and show people that planting trees is easy, important and super fun.
To find out more and to donate some trees, go and take a look at pasodinkmedi.lt