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Ant Forest launched in 2016 and since then over half a billion people have used the app. It basically converts activities with a low-carbon impact, like for example walking/cycling to work, into real trees.
How does the app work? Every time a user makes a low-carbon choice/activity they are rewarded with “green energy points”. World Economic Forum writes:
“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.”
Ant Forest donates and plants a real tree for every virtual tree grown.
China is one of the countries benefitting the most from the app. Even though a third of Chinas “greening” is a result of the expansion of agriculture, 42% comes from projects planting trees. Ant Forest has become the largest private-sector tree planting ploy in the country, according to the UN.
Other than reforesting the planet the trees planted help repair eroded soil and diminish CO2 levels already in the atmosphere. Also, Ant Financial Group said 400 000 job opportunities (many for local farmers) was made possible thanks to the project. Last but not least, by simply not just planting the trees but by getting people to do something in real life to get a tree planted there has been a significant behavioural change. Turning it into a game has inspired millions of to “adopt lower-carbon lifestyles”, World Economic Forum writes.