The 7th edition of Forest in One Day, the public tree planting campaign of Jane Goodall Institute Belgium, took place on 7 February 2021. Due to the corona pandemic, the tree planting campaign could unfortunately not be a public event this time. Instead, a symbolic planting was carried out by a small company in presence of the press and selected prominent figures.
The planned plantings on the 3 locations – Brakel, Visé and Alken – were largely finished beforehand. The trees and shrubs were planted over several days by a limited group of volunteers from Bosgroep Limburg, which has cooperated as a technical partner of the campaign since 2015, Bosgroep Oost-Vlaanderen and Sylva Nova, as well as energy company Luminus who joined our tree planting initiative as partners in 2019.
The number of plantations is certainly impressive this year: 5480 trees and shrubs in Brakel, around 6000 in Alken and about 3000 in Visé. Hans Scheirlinck of Bosgroepen Oost-Vlaanderen elaborates eagerly: “It will be a beautiful mixed forest with native tree species such as oak, beech, wood cherry, black alder and willows. In addition, shrubs such as hazel, hawthorn and rowan will also be planted. This will only benefit biodiversity. ”
The tree planting campaign in Zegelsem, near Brakel, had been planned for a long time. As it happens, Brakel turned out to be the home of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, elected in the autumn of 2020. Invited and properly outfitted, he and his 2 sons braved the snow to plant trees on the piece of land to be greened. Afterwards, the prime minister reaffirmed to those present that planting trees is often an underestimated mean in the fight against global warming. Federal Minister of Energy Tinne Van der Straeten, Luminus CEO Grégoire Dallemagne, the Mayor of Brakel Stefaan Devleeschouwer, and the Mayor of Visé Viviane Dessart all supported the symbolic planting through their presence.
Jane Goodall Institute Belgium feels strengthened in its mission now that not only the government and private individuals, but also companies increasingly see the need to take care of the earth. “By planting trees on a large scale, we can really do something about climate change and biodiversity loss. Hopefully, in the future, this will lead to more forest expansion than net forest loss, both in Burundi and in Belgium” says Anouska Plasmeijer, Jane Goodall Institute Belgium Executive’s Director. She adds why Forest in One Day is more than just planting trees in Belgium. “When Jane Goodall began her well-known research on chimpanzees, deforestation was not her primary concern. Now, 60 years later, it is central to achieving what she believes in. This project demonstrates the Jane Goodall Institute’s holistic approach, where our activities are always in the interest of humans and animals, as well as nature.’’ In Africa, the Belgian branch of the Institute works together with the local population who live in or near the habitats of chimpanzees. For every tree that goes into the ground in Belgium, trees are planted in Africa. Although Forest in One Day started modestly with “1 tree here for 1 tree there”, the project has been increasingly successful. This year, volunteers and Roots & Shoots youth are planting 1.2M trees in Burundi, in the places where it is most needed because of deforestation or mudslides. That is at least 80 trees planted in Africa for every tree planted in Belgium!