100K Trees for Humanity — The Plan

Elizabeth Pearce @ SymSoil
9 min readOct 26, 2022

The time has come to stop waiting for the government to save us from extreme weather events. We need to protect ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our cities through our own actions. 100KTrees for Humanity is an initiative where people take Climate Action into their own hands by planting 1 additional tree per person in their community. The sponsoring organization is 100,000 Trees for Humanity (100KTrees4Humanity.com)

Yes, new policies and new technologies will come, and they are important. But in addition to reducing emissions, you and I, as individuals, and as neighborhoods, towns, service clubs and other groups, we also need to work together to reduce the impact of climate change — the immediate heat, drought or rain, wind etc. from harming our communities.

100KTrees is a way to improve community resilience in the face of the increasing challenges related to weather volatility. The plan involves increasing the interconnectedness of neighborhoods and individuals, and this article outlines the highly decentralized plan where YOU can put your efforts into saving YOUR community.

The initiative has many components, culminating in a complex vision developed by Amos White, the Chief Planting Officer of 100KTrees for Humanity. The overarching goal is to bring trees, water and food to every community, through local action, by making it easy for groups to participate: coordinating volunteers, acquiring trees, working with city tree plans and local arborists.

Government, corporate and philanthropic support will be helpful in launching this movement, but there will always be divergent voices and personalities. The most important aspect of 100KTrees is that it remain a decentralized and local climate initiative, where everyone that wants to contribute feels comfortable engaging. The plan presumes that it will be modified, implemented, and ultimately be managed in a way that reflects the needs and values of the local community, with a bias toward more action in areas with greater need. Which species of trees are desirable, how they are sourced, maintained and planted … these all are local questions.

Your city or town already has a Climate Action Response Plan (CARP) and shortly you will find additional articles with suggestions to help you find and leverage your local resources, resiliency hubs, community gardens, etc.

Join us in posting related ideas, proposals and successes, using the tag 100KTrees, as this will help us leverage our collective learning and support each other. I would appreciate your adding links to other articles through the comment section and using #100KTrees on other platforms.

This article has 4 parts:

Big Picture — The premises, goals and objectives.

Trees — Why they are the centerpiece of community climate action. The near-term goal is to get one additional tree, per city resident, planted as quickly as possible.

Communities — Governments and Community Foundations can help launch this, but its ultimate success will be driven by community service organizations, churches, schools, neighborhood groups and local non-profits mobilizing teams.

Individuals — Jump in to help, now and when you see needs/opportunities in the future. Look for information on where to go within YOUR community. The implementation will vary from place to place, but your town or city needs you and your friends engaged.

Big Picture

Much has been written about climate change and extreme weather events. The time has passed for descriptions of the rationale that various segments of society have used to take various positions. New policies will come, but never as fast as we as individuals can mobilize. The past is over and now we need to act — not by writing, not by protesting, or becoming immobilized by fear — by moving forward, with more action than words to change the world.

NOW we need to move beyond WORDS into ACTIONS that build community resilience.

Heat is absorbed, and reradiated, from dark materials and reflected off lighter surfaces. Cities, with their asphalt streets and lack of shade and respiration from trees, become heat deserts which are hotter than surrounding rural areas. Cities are built for shelter, community and trade and have always grown or changed in ways that protect people. In the current challenging environment, one of the easiest paths to protecting people is to increase the tree canopy and have more plants generally.

Urban trees and vegetation can be used to solved multiple issues — cooling cities, feeding people, remediating soil, training people to these and related task. By creating jobs and encouraging everyone to participate, the plan achieves the inclusiveness that adds to any area’s economic vitality.

Amos White and 100K Trees for Humanity are launching this initiative. He’s making it happen — the tree planting, talking to key people and moving forward in the real world, while I write and try to expand the ideas that will move this initiative into a movement.

As the Chief Planting Officer of 100KTrees, he tries to plant at least one tree for every word he writes. I’m running about 800 words per tree. What is your ratio?


Trees are the centerpiece of the vision. Most plants, and all trees, need healthy living soil ecosystem. When the living soil has a significant fungal component, then carbon is sequestered.

All of life, as we know it, depends upon those wee critters in the soil. You, by which I mean every reader, probably owe your quality of life to antibiotics. Antibiotics are only one small gift to humanity, from soil microbes. Others include bread, cheese, wine, beer, kombucha …

Trees provide multiple ecological services including air filtration, water management and filtration, urban heat reduction and potentially food sources. A partial list can be found here Trees Provide 25 Eco-Services

Ideally, every city moves as fast as possible towards 30% canopy coverage. Very few cities are close to that number. Oakland’s public goal is 40%, but its actual canopy is 21.5%. Adding 1 additional tree per resident would raise this to 30%, when the trees mature. San Francisco’s canopy is 13.7% and San Jose’s canopy is 15.4%.

The First Step to participating in 100KTrees, is to declare that you will plant a tree.

Second, create a flyer inviting others to plan that tree planting at a community meeting. In addition to circulating a flyer, invite friends and neighbors through Nextdoor.

Third, organize the resources needed to buy and plant trees. Reach out, with a call or email to your Mayor or City Council Member. They should be able to tell you what the percentage of tree canopy is for your community, what the goal is and which department has a list of acceptable trees.

Fourth, after the planning meeting, as you move forward, circle back to those contacts and platforms and promote your tree planting. If you have a local free paper, they often list upcoming events, add the invitation there. Bulletin boards at dog parks, cafes, libraries are other good locations for flyers.

To maximize survival rates, trees added to the urban landscape should be at least 3 years old, which is mature enough to survive in an urban environment. Significant contributors to the urban canopy generally need to be 7 to 10 years old.

There does not exist in America today enough young tree seedlings nor nursery space to meet the most minimal needs for this plan. So, as your community scales this program, sourcing trees at a grassroots level becomes critical.

Asking your local officials what the current canopy is signals your interest. Contact your state legislative representative to ask for government support and funding. Find and use existing resources — Does your community have a Resiliency Hub? Reach out to your community foundation, asking which projects they have funded that are currently involved with urban tree planting, community gardens or riparian restoration. Ask for their suggestions for who locally to assist in launching the local 100KTree Program.

This has been done successfully before, in the 1930’s as part of what President Roosevelt called The Great Wall of Trees.

How the trees are planted and where they come from central to this plan.

Community Involvement

To plant trees on the massive scale required to save our cities, we need volunteers, managed in small groups, by service organizations, clubs, churches, and philanthropic organizations. 100K Trees for Humanity has already begun outreach to those working on land evaluation for optimization.

Expect Scouts, JCCs, and volunteers from all churches, synagogues and temples to be sprouting seeds of native trees and hosting tree planting events. 100KTrees for Humanity has found that there are a variety of tasks that even children can engage in that contribute to the process. (Suggestions for science lessons to follow as well.)

Ultimately, of course, each community will need a central organizer — to maintain lists of species that are encouraged, to share equipment and useful contacts. Here in California, there are 433 cities or towns where a coordinator will manage the communication, and coordinate the use of the heavy equipment (for drilling holes for trees and moving pallets of trees and soil) and generally, support the various groups. This includes keeping the ideas flowing from successes and lessons learned.

But you don’t need this to start.

As this movement grows, community support is critical to getting the needed municipal support. Cities are concerned with the cost of litter (dead leaves), pests and maintenance. Oakland, for example, requires a significant contribution from a non-profit any time a new tree is planted. So, funds will be needed to support tree planting, as well as to assert local political influence.

There are already high school clubs which are sprouting seedlings in the San Francisco area. Using enhanced soil products like SymSoil, and techniques developed by Miyawaki Forest practitioners, it appears we may be able to reduce the 3-year time frame for a tree to have sufficient maturity for urban planting, by about a year.

By having student volunteers sprout young trees at an accelerated rate for the first year, and then potting and transferring them to nurseries for the second year of growth, we can increase the turnover and efficiency of nurseries. The total number of locally produced trees could be tripled without a need for expansion. Nurseries would not lose jobs and their income would become more consistent and stable.

Community colleges and job training programs will increasingly focus on jobs related to tree maintenance, food growth, soil health and plant biology. Much is known about local ecosystems and growing plants, but there are not enough experienced arborists, master gardeners and related trades to support the proposed changes in the urban landscapes.

Individual Action

You, as an individual, cannot outrun the climate changes that are occurring. But consider the way a community rallied, as the Midwest was settled, to a Barn Raising. The community pulled together to help one family, knowing that the same group would be available to help them when the time came. Often, there are multiple visions of a solution and approaches — and this will be true of 100K Trees as well.

It has already been suggested that you call or email your municipal officials to learn the size of your tree canopy, relative to the city’s footprint. They can also point you to copy of the local Climate Action Response Plan.

Implementation of 100KTrees is going to require both public and private support, from small groups of volunteers, and larger organizations. Right now, 100K Trees for Humanity is looking for a lead volunteer to gather names of local volunteers. (Again, we will need at least one per municipality, so at least 433, just in California.) Local volunteers are needed and more information will be posted shortly. (email 100KTrees here)

It will look different in different communities, but the components of 100KTrees must be under local control and reflect the community, like spokes in a hub. If your community already has a resiliency hub, that is a great place to start.

In my hometown, Santa Cruz, I can visualize tech executives and philanthropic groups like Omega Nu raising money for trees and equipment. But I can’t visualize those individuals planting trees alongside the environmental activists who have been living off the grid for the last decade, in the mountains around Highway 17. Yet, both groups, and everyone in between, has a critical role in 100KTrees, just different paths to execution of their contribution.

The organizations involved with job training, working with Vets, disabled people need to be engaged in the plan as well, reoriented to the new skill sets that will be required as 100KTrees expands and the trees mature..

More information on Trees & The Tree Plan

Why does SymSoil care? We focus on solutions to environmental issues, with a focus on soil biology. Trees and plants feed, and are fed by, the soil microbiome. Healthy soil influences water, carbon sequestration and human health. SymSoil holds a patent on the first scalable approach to manufacturing Soil Food Web products as an alternative to agrochemicals.

SymSoil is a supporter of 100KTrees4Humanity, an urban tree planting project focused on action that moves us towards solutions to climate change with equity and inclusion.



Elizabeth Pearce @ SymSoil

We recreate the complete soil microbe biome to improve farmer profits. #RegenAg #ClimateAction #100KTrees https://www.100ktrees4humanity.com