The National Green Committee Office, the China Green Foundation and Ant Forest (an application produced by Alipay) signed a strategic cooperation agreement on the “Internet and comprehensive voluntary tree-planting” (互联网+全面义务植树) with the National Forestry and Grasslands Administration on October 23. Starting from the end of November, the planting certificates of Ant Forest will interconnect with the certificates of voluntary tree-planting issued by this government body, which means that Ant Forest will be embedded in the system of national voluntary tree-planting, and will become an accepted and cooperative project of the national ministry.
Every time Alipay records its users walking, taking public transportation and paying the gas and electricity fees online, Ant Forest will collect and accumulate the reduction in carbon emissions and this data will be turned into virtual trees on the platform. Once these trees have matured, Ant Financial (another online platform of Alipay) and its NGO partners will transform the virtual trees into real trees to promote afforestation and improve the environment. Until 2017, Ant Forest has planted 13,140,000 trees in Inner Mongolia, and has protected 12,111 mu conservation areas.
The formal incorporation of Ant Forest marks a new achievement of voluntary tree-planting within the digital economy, and has a strong promotional value.
Residents’ voluntary tree-planting has a history of 37 years in China, and has made a great contribution to afforestation. However some problems with the traditional offline model have emerged. Not only is the activities’ scope limited, but also the survival rate of the trees and the sustainability of the activities are uncertain because of the lack of professional planning and design. Ant Forest solves some of these problems by relying on fundraising by enterprises, planting by local professional units and organizing by NGOs.
Ant Forest now has more than 350,000,000 users, and will continue cooperating with the national forestry departments to work on environmental conservation and poverty alleviation.