A Match Made in Heaven

Plant-for-the-Planet and the Crowther Lab

Felix Finkbeiner, founder of Plant-for-the-Planet visited Zurich last week to meet the team here and see the lab. Although this was the first time some of us had met Felix, this was not the case for Tom who has collaborated with him in the past. They recently spoke to Nature, Ecology and Evolution about the work they had done together, and their plans for the future. Here is a short summary of the topics discussed in their interview, with an insight into future plans between Plant-for-the-Planet and the Crowther Lab.

How they met

Tom and Felix met through a mutual friend of theirs, Gregor Hintler. Greg had planted Plant-for-the-Planets first tree with Felix, and also lived with Tom while both at the Yale School of Forestry. Greg realised the need for a scientific basis for global forest restoration which led to Tom and Felix’s first collaboration.

It started with the Billion Tree Campaign which was handed over to Plant-for-the-Planet in 2011. 15 billion trees were planted, but there was a need for more. The only problem was that nobody knew how many trees existed at that time. Greg approached Tom and asked him to research if it was possible to estimate the total number of trees. In September 2015, Tom successfully generated a spatially explicit map of tree density across the world, which was published in Nature and helped Felix and Plant-for-the-Planet with their campaign.

Following the success of their first project, the dynamic duo want to continue their collaboration further. The Crowther Lab and Plant-for-the-Planet have secured important funding. They can now look into the global ecological information that will improve our ability to predict and combat climate change.