Come Together for a Common Goal: Plant a Tree in Belgium and Support a Project in Congo

Written by Leanne Halewyck
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Congo Gorilla Forest Congo Gorilla Forest wallyg on flickr!

Last year expats, Belgian nationals and the Flemish Forest Association accomplished something miraculous: the creation of a new forest in mere hours! If you were there, you might remember the chilly damp weather or the glee of muddy children. Surely, you would recall the sight of a barren plot of land magically filling with fresh saplings. That day, a monument to solidarity in the face of threats to our global environment was born. The tender young forest is thriving today.

The Tree Planting Event has come to represent the essence of what Sunbeams tries to accomplish. People from each socio-economic strata have the opportunity see each other as colleagues instead of strangers. The businessman with impressive expense accounts can be just as mud-happy as the inner city children reveling in what may be for some, a first glimpse into the world of worms and beetles. Sunbeams emphasizes practical steps, and our forest is one marvelous practical step. That forest demonstrates that expats, who may not view Belgium as their permanent home, are also committed to helping enrich their natural surroundings. They also recognize the global impact that trees make on our lives in everything - from sheltering biodiversity to purifying our air and water. Trees planted in Belgium serve not only this country, but also the world.

This year Sunbeams is striving to increase our global impact by partnering with a Congolese troupe from the Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots program. These youth have accepted an inspiring challenge: in an effort to improve the migratory odds for indigenous wildlife (including those loveable chimpanzees which Goodall is best known for) they are endeavoring to plant a green corridor between two forests. This corridor should help provide necessary shelter, nutrition and camouflage for wildlife travelling between the two forests. Local adults, trained by Jane Goodall staff, will help protect the area. For every five euros donated towards planting trees in Belgium, a contribution will be made to the Roots and Shoots program in Congo. By spending a day dedicating yourself to the beautification of a section of Flanders, you really are making a positive global impact on the environment.

Forests are places where children really can believe in magic. I know I did when I was a child. Where there were trees, there were also infinitesimal worlds inhabited by miniature beasties. Secrets floated to the skies on the iridescent wings of butterflies. Fallen leaves crunched and squelched underfoot in their own arboreal symphony. I had the chance to play among the trees as a child. I consider it not only a duty, but a privilege to be able to help make those magical forests available to my children and hopefully, to generations to come. In fact, a section of the larger plot organized for this planting action will be dedicated as a children’s play forest. This year, Sunbeams will be holding another Tree Planting Event on Sunday March 20th in Gooik. We are once again dedicated to supporting UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign. However, this year we’d like to plant even more trees! To facilitate things, we will be arranging shuttle bus transport to help those who choose to come by public transport. People of all ages, faiths and nationalities are encouraged to come and help us create something that will last for generations. For those who are unable to attend we offer the possibility to donate; for every five euros given, a tree will be planted in your honour. To register for more information about the event or to pledge your commitment to planting trees please go here.

Sections of this article appeared in the BCT magazine, Small Talk.

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