‘Our main work is not planting and growing trees, but planting and growing communities!’
Community Climate Coach: Ana Ruk Kalendar, Simona Mrlak, Ivica Šnajder, Kristina Pongrac (all regional coordinators)
Project: Zasadi stablo ne budi panj (“Plant a Tree, Don’t be a Stump”)
Location: Croatia; based in Varaždin (north), but all regions covered
Local context: Croatia is at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, lying between Italy, Hungary and Serbia. The country has a population of nearly 4 million, and joined the EU in 2013.
Project website: https://zasadistablonebudipanj.hr/en/
Goals: Climate change adaptation through planting useful trees.
Process: We encourage people to plant as many trees as possible in their communities, their living and working environments throughout Croatia. The initiative was launched with the idea that anyone can plant a tree and thereby contribute to the fight against climate change. Also, crucially, to design systems in a community to care for these trees sustainably, not just plant them. Offshoots of the project have been planting trees with special purposes: eg. edible trees in urban areas, windshields and soil erosion control in agricultural areas, and educational tree planting in schools. Mainly NGOs and schools get involved, but also companies, individuals and some local authorities.
Insights: This is positive and practical activism: something that is easy, non-controversial and tangible, that anybody can do. Having a positive climate impact without waiting for political, top-down action. We didn’t want to be another activist group that only protests and complains. Planting trees can be done individually, as a family, as community group, or an institution; results are immediately visible and encourage more people to get involved. Planting trees is not a one-off action, but needs to be made sustainable – trees should be cared for by a thriving community.