Through planting trees within the area, youth in the area are developing a more green future for Edmonton.
University of Alberta student Nathaniel Perumal, vice-president (operations) of PlantForever, is working alongside Marmik Patel, the founding president of PlantForever, to spread awareness about the climate crisis. PlantForever is a volunteer-run organization that plants trees in urban environments in hopes of developing urban forests.
“In the last four years, the way [PlantForever] has structured things is by planting trees at private properties,” Patel said. “Let’s say you’re a homeowner and you want some trees on your property. Once you register on our website, volunteers will come over and plant them.”
Patel founded PlantForever in 2017. With large governments and organizations planting primarily on public land, Patel described seeing an opportunity for more trees on private property.
“I noticed there’s a big opportunity to plant more trees… and within the context of Canada one big place where more trees can be planted is private property,” he said. “I noticed that back in 2017 and decided [to] make a nonprofit and get more trees on private property.”
Homeowners can request trees from PlantForever in two different ways. With direct planting, volunteers go to the homeowner’s place and plant the trees. The other is indirect, which is often utilized if a homeowner lives outside of the Edmonton area, where PlantForever can give them the trees and pots to plant themselves.
The organization occasionally holds tree planting events, where volunteers gather and plant trees at different places PlantForever has registered. According to Perumal, these events are often very successful, with one a few years ago bringing together over 30 volunteers.
“There was a really great event in particular — a student planting event,” Perumal said. “We were trying to push the idea to engage students with environmentalism and tree planting, so we just went to a local high school to encourage them to attend our event, and actually ended up being a lot more successful than we were expecting.”
According to both Perumal and Patel, feedback on PlantForever’s work has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
“[People] are just surprised that people our age are willing to do something like this, and get other people involved,” Perumal added.
PlantForever’s team is run primarily by youth. Patel emphasized the importance of youth involvement, especially when considering the impending climate crisis.
“An organization working to mitigate the climate crisis, youth action is critical,” Patel said. “Seeing this kind of youth turnout and [seeing the youth] involve themselves in an environmental nonprofit doing on the ground effort — it’s phenomenal to see and we hope we can increase that.”
When looking to the future, PlantForever described looking to expand their volunteer team, as well as their coverage.
“The biggest thing right now is just expanding PlantForever and getting more trees planted,” Patel said. “We hope to stay in Edmonton, but you need to plant trees on a large scale in order to make a large impact, especially if we’re looking at the Canadian context or North American context.”
“The next step that my team is working towards is expanding across Canada and eventually internationally, so we can go to different cities across the world and get more trees planted.”