Aspiration x veritree - A Deep Dive Into Our First Tree Planting Projects

From Chad Hunter, Aspiration's Head of Sustainability.

Hello Aspiration community!

We recently announced our new tree planting partnership with veritree and are really excited to dive into what that really means for you and for the world. Today, I want to talk about the first two tree planting projects weโ€™re partnering with veritree on, including an overview of the planting sites, the types of trees that will be planted, how we will monitor those projects with veritree, and the impact of those projects. ๐Ÿ™Œ

Weโ€™ve received a lot of feedback from you asking for more details on the projects and their impact, so Iโ€™m really excited to share all of this with you. Letโ€™s go! ๐Ÿš€


Our First Projects with veritree


To kick off our partnership with veritree, we are supporting two high-impact tree planting projects: a mangrove restoration project in Kenya, and a pollinator agroforestry project in Haiti. We may expand to more projects and sites in the future, but we are really excited about these two so letโ€™s dive into them! ๐ŸŒณ


Mangrove Restoration in Coastal Kenya: A Vital Climate Solution


As part of our commitment to climate-positive banking, we're thrilled to support an incredible mangrove reforestation project in coastal Kenya. Mangroves are ecological powerhouses, boasting some of the highest carbon sequestration rates of any tree species (Bernal et al., 2018). This project aims to restore crucial mangrove ecosystems, addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, and the economic well-being of coastal communities. A win-win-win! ๐Ÿ‘

Community members in Kenya prepare for a day of mangrove planting.


The Challenge: Mangrove Degradation


Historically, the Kenyan coastline was shielded by lush mangrove forests. However, overexploitation and harvesting have devastated these vital habitats. The loss of mangroves not only weakens natural carbon sinks but also disrupts delicate ecosystems and undermines the livelihoods of impoverished local communities. Without mangroves, fish populations decline, and coastal areas become more vulnerable to erosion and storm surges. This can be a negative feedback loop that needs to be reversed. Enter: you! ๐Ÿ™‚


A Holistic Solution


This reforestation project doesn't just plant trees; it tackles multiple interconnected challenges. First, this project helps reforest areas and directly combats deforestation. And by restoring the rich biodiversity of the mangrove estuary, it creates essential fish nurseries, supporting sustainable fishing for local communities. Fishing helps break the poverty cycle and enables the development of additional income streams for these communities. Additionally, the revitalized mangrove forests will stabilize coastlines, helping protect both the land and the communities from the increasing threat of tropical storms. ๐ŸŸ

Oh, and donโ€™t forget about the climate impact! Mangroves are one of the most efficient trees at absorbing carbon dioxide (Bernal et al., 2018), and are arguably the best at it if you account for the amount of carbon they help sequester in the soil as they grow (Salmo et al., 2019). This is one of the key reasons why we are so excited to be supporting this vital project. And it's all thanks to you! ๐Ÿ™


Pollinator Agroforestry in Haiti: Supporting Biodiversity and Local Enterprise


In addition to the Kenya mangrove restoration project, we're excited to partner with a unique project in Haiti that blends tree planting, biodiversity conservation, and economic empowerment.  This project uses pollinator agroforestry, a method that strategically integrates trees, shrubs, crops, and livestock to enhance both agricultural yields and ecological health. ๐ŸŒฑ


Trees, Bees, and Sustainable Farming


At the heart of this project lies the planting of trees and shrubs that directly support pollinators like bees. Bees are essential to our food system (Hung et al., 2018), yet the populations are in rapid decline across the world which does not receive the attention it should (Althaus et al., 2021). So we are excited to support this project which carefully selects tree species to provide food and habitat for these essential insects, ensuring their populations thrive. In turn, healthy bee populations boost crop yields, leading to more productive farms, all while the trees are helping fight climate change! ๐ŸŽ

Additionally, the project partners are identifying and cultivating high-demand, pollinator-friendly products โ€“ like fruits and honey โ€“  that can flourish alongside the planted trees. This layered approach maximizes land use and creates additional revenue streams for farmers. ๐Ÿ“ˆ


Market-Based, Community-Led


This honey-optimized agroforestry project structure was co-created in Haiti with partners, farmers, and honey producers. This helps ensure this project is tailored to local needs and market opportunities which will allow it to be sustainable and ensure the climate benefits of the trees and ecosystem restoration are long-term. One notable example is veritreeโ€™s partnership with Prosperity Catalyst, which formed the women-led candle-making cooperative, Fann Limye, that utilizes the honey produced through this initiative. ๐Ÿ•ฏ๏ธ

Trees begin their journey in the nursery, nurtured by a Haitian community member. This is a crucial early step in creating a thriving pollinator agroforestry system that supports biodiversity and local livelihoods.


Why We Chose These Sites


Hopefully after reading about the projects it is clear why we selected these two sites to support first! These projects plant trees that have an incredible climate impact, help combat deforestation, help provide economic wellbeing for the communities they are in, and support the plants, animals, insects, and environment that they are in! ๐Ÿ™Œ


"We're proud to support projects that make a holistic impact, like restoring mangrove estuaries in Kenya to empower coastal communities and implementing pollinator agroforestry in Haiti to uplift women and girls. These initiatives go beyond merely tree planting, fostering resilience, economic well being, and environmental sustainabilityโ€

David Luba, Head of Partnerships and Co-founder at veritree. 


And we canโ€™t thank you enough for contributing to these projects through our Plant Your Change program - you are really the ones making an impact! ๐ŸŒ


Types of Trees Being Planted At The Sites


For the Kenya restoration project, you are helping fund the planting of new mangrove trees. As mentioned above, mangroves are ecological powerhouses: they absorb carbon dioxide emissions, protect the land from erosion, support fish populations, and provide a natural buffer against tropical storms. โ›ˆ๏ธ


Rows of delicate mangrove seedlings line the Kenyan coastline, marking the start of a vibrant coastal restoration project. These tiny plants will soon transform into lush, climate-resilient forests.


Your support of the pollinator agroforestry project in Haiti directly contributes to planting a variety of trees that benefit the climate, pollinators, and local communities. This includes species like hog plum, silk cotton, coconut, cashew, mango, sweetsop and soursop, avocado, cocoa, sapotille, citrus fruits, star fruit, breadfruit, lemon grass, and bamboo! ๐Ÿ‹


Meticulous care is taken to propagate and nurture saplings at the agroforestry nursery, ensuring species diversity and optimal health for our planting.


Ensuring Impact: How We Monitor Tree Planting Projects

We understand that you trust us with your money and your desire to make a positive environmental impact. That's why we're committed to working with partners who have robust monitoring of the tree-planting projects, ensuring they deliver the climate, environmental, and social benefits we promise. We are excited to talk about the incredible monitoring and technology-driven approach that veritree is helping power.


A Multi-Pronged Approach


veritree employs a combination of advanced technology and on-the-ground verification:

  • Remote Sensing: Tools like satellite imagery, drones, and specialized cameras track tree growth, survival rates, and overall ecosystem health
  • Ground-Level Monitoring: Devices like bioacoustic monitors (helping track the change in wildlife over time), dendrometers (for tree growth measurement), and IoT sensors (for soil and environmental data) provide detailed insights
  • In-Person Site Visits: Regular visits by us, our partners, and field experts offer direct observation and community engagement, verifying project progress and impact

A soil sensor inserted into the ground provides information about the health and composition of the soil. Consistent readings of low to no soil moisture indicate drought conditions and readings of very high soil moisture can indicate flood conditions.


Transparency and Accountability


Our commitment to transparency means you'll have access to data and updates about the projects your contributions support. We hope to provide this information more regularly so you can feel good knowing the real-world impact of your actions.


โ€œveritreeโ€™s platform was designed to revolutionize the Nature Based Solutions space. By seamlessly integrating on-the-ground technology with cutting-edge geospatial data, we offer unprecedented transparency and confidence in restoration efforts. Our near real-time measurement, monitoring, and verification capabilities ensure that every impact is assessed and authenticated, empowering stakeholders to trust in the transformative potential of nature restoration.โ€

David Luba, Head of Partnerships & Co-founder at veritree.


The Power of Your Choice: Tangible Impacts of Tree Planting


So, what does this all mean? What kind of difference will our collective tree-planting efforts make? Here's what you can expect:

  • Climate Action: As trees grow, they absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, directly combating climate change. Projects like these play a valuable role in absorbing emissions and creating a more sustainable future ๐ŸŒŽ
  • Reversing Deforestation: By strategically planting trees in degraded areas, we contribute to reforestation efforts. This helps restore vital ecosystems and the wide array of benefits they provide ๐ŸŒณ
  • Environmental Benefits: Whether it's mangroves protecting Kenyan coastlines or pollinator-friendly trees boosting biodiversity in Haiti, these projects create ripple effects of positive environmental change ๐Ÿ
  • Empowering Communities: Tree planting initiatives aren't just about the environment. They provide sustainable income sources for local communities โ€“ from fishing to to responsible harvesting of fruits, to building other valuable products like candles ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Tracking Your Impact: We want to better communicate the high impact these projects are having. You can now see your lifetime trees supported in our app and see the climate, environmental, and social impacts of our total tree planting efforts!๐Ÿ“ฑ

โ€œveritree is proud to partner with Aspiration, a true trailblazer when it comes to the restorative movement. Collectively, we look forward to planting more trees, deploying more sensors, and supporting more community members, all while providing data and evidence to demonstrate our impact along the way.โ€ 

David Luba, Head of Partnerships and Co-founder at veritree.


Join the Movement: Plant Trees, Create Impact


This is just the beginning of an exciting journey! Now is the perfect time to join our community of change-makers and directly contribute to these inspiring tree-planting projects. Here's how:

  • Enable Plant Your Change: Activate the Plant Your Change round-up feature in your account to effortlessly plant trees with every purchase. If you previously turned it off, it's easy to re-enable! ๐ŸŒฒ
  • Customize Your Impact: Set your weekly round-up limits and feel free to pause anytime if you need a break. You're in control ๐Ÿ‘
  • See Your Progress: Check out the impact of your tree planting contributions in the app and keep an eye out for deep dive project updates where we will explore how each project is having a positive impact on the planet and communities ๐Ÿ“ˆ

As always, I hope you found this insightful and actionable! Please share your feedback here on what you liked, didn't like, found useful, or want to understand better. ๐Ÿ™



References

Althaus, S. L., Berenbaum, M. R., Jordan, J., & Shalmon, D. A. (2021). No buzz for bees: Media coverage of pollinator decline. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(2), e2002552117. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2002552117

Bernal, B., Murray, L. T., & Pearson, T. R. H. (2018). Global carbon dioxide removal rates from forest landscape restoration activities. Carbon Balance and Management, 13(1), 22. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13021-018-0110-8

Hung, K.-L. J., Kingston, J. M., Albrecht, M., Holway, D. A., & Kohn, J. R. (2018). The worldwide importance of honey bees as pollinators in natural habitats. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285(1870), 20172140. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.2140

Salmo, S. G., Malapit, V., Garcia, M. C. A., & Pagkalinawan, H. M. (2019). Establishing rates of carbon sequestration in mangroves from an earthquake uplift event. Biology Letters, 15(3), 20180799. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0799