This week, I spoke with Matt Hill, CEO & Founder of One Tree Planted.

One Tree Planted is a non-profit organization focused on global reforestation. Their team works with reforestation partners in four different continents to help individuals, businesses or schools make a difference. You can plant a tree with as little as $1!

More recently, One Tree Planted partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute. The two organizations are working on a critical restoration project in the Albertine Rift Forests in Uganda. More on that later.

Here is a Q&A from our discussion:

Q: I saw you made the switch from corporate finance to social impact (like I am doing now). What inspired you to make the switch back in 2004?

Finance was not for me. Everything from the suit to the constant race was unfulfilling. When I got my Masters in 1999, I was originally planning to go for a degree in Environmental Policy but ended up getting my MBA instead. However, my undergrad was actually in Political Science.

I took so many environmental classes and they opened my eyes to all of the problems and things that were going on 20 years ago and they stuck with me.

I’ve always believed that small actions add up; people would be willing to make better decisions if they were simple to do.

Q: With so many different sustainability and conservation initiatives out there, why planting trees? What is your favorite part about tree-planting?

Man plants tree with One Tree Planted in Rwanda

People don’t realize how important trees are to the environment. They help with so much, from air quality and water to biodiversity and social impact. Plus, forests are remarkably efficient at capturing and storing carbon.

The amount any given tree is able to sequester differs depending on size, maturity, location, and species, but the average mature tree is capable of capturing around 48 pounds of CO2 per year. And my favorite part is hearing from all the people who come out to plant trees with us when we have events.

It’s great to see happy kids and people of all ages with their hands in the dirt and a smile on their face, knowing that they’re really doing something positive right in their own community.

Q: Congrats on the Jane Goodall partnership! What are some of the biggest challenges you face in regards to restoration efforts in the Albertine Rift Forests?

Thanks so much. This is such a large project for us, and we’re thrilled about it. At the moment, the biggest obstacle is the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also a lot of complexities that come with a project this size, such as working with many local people and making sure there is forest monitoring.

We also need to explain to donors and other participants what their real impact is.

Most will think about chimpanzees, and that is an important species, but the overall project is about restoring a pretty big ecosystem while taking the needs of local people into account.

Big picture is to reduce future deforestation while restoring existing damage and connecting disjointed forest patches.

Q: Money and politics aside, if there was one thing you could do to help the California wildfires, what would that be?

I want people to better understand why this is happening and what we can do to help make changes there.

My team is launching a docuseries on September 8 called “The State of California” that examines this, check out the trailer here.

Q: What is your outlook for the future of humans and the planet? Happy or sad?

My outlook is happy; I believe we have the ability to make changes and do things even better and faster than we’ve ever done before. Change will not happen overnight. Baby steps are important steps and will result in a compounded effect.

I am inspired every day by the people that genuinely care about our planet, like our professional tree planters and awesome volunteers.

Thank you to Matt Hill and the team at One Tree Planted for taking the time to talk climate!

Interested in planting a tree or starting a fundraiser? One Tree Planted works with people, businesses and schools from all around the world.

Check out their trees page here, or their fundraiser page here. For more information, you can visit their website.

One last thing, if you enjoyed this format, check out my other interview with Brian Powers of TemperPack. This sustainable packaging startup has now raised over $40 million!

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