Planting a tree in your own neighborhood is a great way to help the planet, but what about those tree-starved areas out of your shovel’s reach?
Believe it or not, you can easily plant a tree in a deforested or at-risk area of the globe with $12 or less and a few clicks on the web. Check out these seven resources to get you started. Whether you’re making a low-cost charitable donation for yourself or donating as a thoughtful gift for another, you’ll be protecting ecosystems in need.
1. Preserve National Forests
You can help the National Forest Foundation (NFF) reach their goal of planting 50 million trees in U.S. National Forests by 2023. Planting a tree with the NFF is quick, easy, and affordable. And you’ll help preserve U.S. forests for future generations to enjoy.
The NFF will plant a tree for every dollar you give to its tree-planting program, which help restore national forests damaged by wildfire, insects, disease, and other impacts.
2. Fight Deforestation in the Atlantic Forest
Brazil’s Atlantic Forest is home to more than 1,000 species of birds. And almost 200 of these species are not found anywhere else on Earth. But the habitat is shrinking quickly due to deforestation.
Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees Campaign promotes large-scale forest restoration in two of Brazil’s crucial forests: the Atlantic and Cerrado Forests. By donating to the campaign, you help ensure the survival of many endangered plant and animal species — and help local communities.
3. Give Trees to a Family in Need
The charitable work of Heifer International began with providing livestock to low-income families around the world. But the organization has since expanded its repertoire to include all kinds of items that enable self-sufficiency, including — you guessed it — trees.
Your $10 donation will buy a share of tree seedlings. For every six shares donated, Heifer International will provide tree seedlings to a family in need. These trees allow families to grow nourishing edibles like nuts and fruits, and help prevent kids from going hungry.
4. Restore Areas Damaged by Forest Fires
The most unique part about Trees for a Change? The organization will post maps and photos of the trees online after they’re planted. So, you can see the result of your donation and even plan a trip to visit your tree!
5. Revive the Forests of the World
Focused on global reforestation, OneTreePlanted works with partners to plant trees in North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific. Pick a region and project you’d like to support — whether it’s the Amazon Rainforest, Tanzania, or Iceland, each dollar you donate plants one tree. Yes, you read that right: one dollar, one tree.
Your donation to OneTreePlanted works to reverse global deforestation, conserves habitat for hundreds of species, and helps provide a sustainable livelihood to people in the region.
6. Protect Crucial Habitats Abroad
The World Land Trust (WLT) works with partner organizations to protect crucial habitats around the world. As part of this work, trees may be planted to restore forests that have been lost to deforestation or to reconnect areas of forest habitat.
Your donation of £25 (about US$33) funds the planting and care of five trees, which includes “collecting the seed, nurturing the seedling, preparing the land, planting the tree, tending the sapling, and protecting the new forest.” Depending on the project, your donations may also include environmental education for children and habitat protection for endangered species.
7. Offer Families a Sustainable Livelihood
Trees for the Future helps impoverished farmers throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America convert degraded and denuded farmland into Forest Gardens. These gardens can provide families with sustainable food, livestock feed, wood for fuel, and a substantial increase in their income within a short period.
For as little as $10, you can provide essential tree seeds for one family. A donation of $50 funds a full complement of seeds, tools, and materials needed to maintain a forest garden for one year.
Talk about making a difference on a budget!
Editor’s note: Originally published on January 17, 2014, this article was updated in April 2021.