Today’s Solutions: December 05, 2021

Since its launch in 2016, over half a billion people have used Ant Forest to convert lower-carbon activities such as using public transport into real trees. The game is helping China lead the way in re-greening the planet and is serving as a model for tree-planting schemes elsewhere. It’s the kind of innovation the World Economic Forum is seeking through UpLink, a platform for crowdsourcing sustainable development solutions to challenges including how to plant a trillion trees.

The Ant Forest Model: So how does it work? To start with, Ant Forest has plenty of potential players, being part of China’s Alipay mobile payments app, which is used by more than a billion people. Each time a user performs a lower-carbon activity, such as paying a utility bill online or cycling to work, they are rewarded with “green energy points.”

However, rather than immediately spending those points on a real tree, Ant Forest turns its users into game players. The green energy points “grow” into a virtual tree on the user’s app. And users can share green energy with friends and see how their virtual forests compare with others. For every virtual tree grown, Ant Forest donates – and plants – a real one. And this gamification has had real-world impacts.

According to a study in Nature Sustainability, NASA satellites have revealed a 5% increase in global green leaf cover since the early 2000s – with China leading that growth. While a third of Chinese greening is due to the expansion of agriculture, 42% comes from projects to plant forests. According to the UN, Ant Forest has become the country’s largest private-sector tree-planting scheme – so the game is a big part of China’s greening.

And the locations for planting are ambitious: arid areas of Northern China like parts of Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Shanxi. Many of the 122 million Ant Forest trees have been planted in areas that have become deserts.

There has been some criticism. In 2019, the journal Nature reported concerns that holding back deserts with trees could put pressure on water supplies. Scientists in China responded that local conditions are taken into account. Drought-resistant varieties, such as the “saxaul” shrub, are used by Ant Forest.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Rwanda’s mountain gorillas represent a successful conservation story

Following years of poaching and habitat destruction, the population of mountain gorillas in Rwanda once numbered under 260 individuals. Now, Rwandan gorillas represent a rare conservation success and a key economic engine for the East ... Read More

Germany plans to put 15 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2030

Making electric cars the dominant vehicles on the road is key to curbing planet-warming emissions and protecting the climate. In a bid to reach that goal, an increasing number of countries and cities across the ... Read More

Here are 5 Indigenous-led eco-charities you can support today

The climate crisis has caused us to reconsider our consumerist lifestyles and turn to Indigenous peoples to learn from their superior understanding of living in harmony with nature. Here is a list of five organizations ... Read More

Scientists discover a peculiar new planet

Deep into the Hercules constellation, 855 light-years away from Earth, lies a record breaking exoplanet. This newly discovered gas giant was named TOI-2109b, and the thing that makes it so special is the fact it ... Read More

High altitude experiment shows that snow monkeys are excellent at fishing

Snow monkeys, also known as the Japanese macaque, are native to many of the main islands of Japan. These fluffy creatures are the most northern-based non-human primate out there, meaning they have some cold temperatures ... Read More