In Focus: Planting 500 Million Trees Where They’re Needed Most

Here’s why the Arbor Day Foundation is committed to planting
500 million trees in forests and neighborhoods of greatest need

Trees and forests are helping to solve some of the biggest problems facing people and the planet today.

From standing tall on the frontlines of climate change to cool our cities and pull carbon from the air, to providing a home for 80 percent of all land-based animals, plants and insects, people and the planet need trees and forests now more than ever.

And it isn’t just the Arbor Day Foundation — the world’s largest membership nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees — with an affinity for the power of trees.

A representative with the United Nations said an “investment in forests is investing in our future.” An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report found that restoring forests could play an outsized role in the solution to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Investment in forests is investing in our future.

Liu Zhenmin Under-Secretary-General,
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

As the world edges its way closer to the climate ledge — the 1.5 degree Celsius global warming limit that, if reached, would set in motion irreversible effects for the planet — trees and forest remain the most affordable, scalable nature-based solution available today.

Raising a Hand, Committed to the Cause

Our planet needs organizations to step up and accelerate the impact trees and forests can have around the world. Thanks to its global network of partners and supporters, no one is better positioned to be that leader than the Arbor Day Foundation.

That’s why the Foundation has committed to plant 500 million trees in forests and neighborhoods of greatest need in the next five years. There is certainly no shortage of tree planting goals from other organizations, but the Arbor Day Foundation’s goal is different.

Why 500 Million?

It’s not about the number — the real story is about the focus of where these trees will be planted.

But there is a reason why the Arbor Day Foundation is planting 500 million trees and forests in neighborhoods where they’re needed most. The Arbor Day Foundation was founded 50 years ago in 1972. In that time, it has helped to plant and distribute almost 500 million trees.

That emphasis on an acceleration of its work — planting as many trees in the next five years as it did in its first 50 years — also reinforces the urgency of tree planting over the next few years to make inroads against climate change.

How This Goal is Different

The Arbor Day Foundation is not the first organization to set a tree planting goal. But the Arbor Day Foundation’s goal is more than the number.

The magic behind the 500 million tree planting goal lies in the focus on where those trees will be planted: In forests and neighborhoods of greatest need.

This new level of focus and detail on where Arbor Day Foundation trees get planted are thanks to a combination of tools, technology, and data. This influx of science-based information is designed to help the Foundation target areas around the world where trees are needed most.

To ensure these 500 million trees are working as hard as they possibly can for the planet, the Foundation set two targets to guide its tree plantings in forests and neighborhoods.


90 percent of its reforestation work with be in forests of greatest need around the world. The Arbor Day Foundation’s Forest Priority Index was established exclusively by the foundation and provides a balanced, rich data set that will identify the forests where trees’ benefits can be maximized.


90 percent of its community trees will be planted in neighborhoods where trees are needed most. To ensure that occurs, the Foundation again will turn to data. The Foundation is utilizing a variety of information sets to locate those neighborhoods, notably the NatureQuant NatureScore Priortiy Index.

To donate or learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation’s goal to plant 500 million trees by summer of 2027, visit

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