The Figures in the life of Felix Finkbeiner are impressive. His declared goal is “one-thousand-billion – plant a Billion trees”. All of 15 seconds to plant his NGO “Plant for the Planet” a tree. More than 70,000 young people have joined its movement, 15 billion trees had been planted, a billion in the past year alone. Equally impressive Finkbeiners is biography: at the age of 9, he initiated the tree-planting project, with 13 he spoke before the United Nations last year, he was just 20 years old, the Federal cross of merit, appears in his second book.

As a patron of the Plant for the Planet, Prince Albert of Monaco and Klaus Töpfer. The organization in the Bavarian town of Uffing carries out educational projects at schools and operates in the Mexican Yucatan, a tree school. An App helps you to register trees. In the future, they will continue to track even with the aid of satellite data, the progress of reforestation projects around the world, and an algorithm to calculate how much carbon dioxide is bound as a result. The aim is to create transparency and all the donors the feeling that their money for a useful cause. If you take a closer look, however, more precisely, creeps up a doubt as to the impressive Figures.

it starts with the progress bar for the 1000-billion-trees-and-goal on the site of the Plant for the Planet; this currently stands at about a quarter – that would be around 250 billion trees. If you click on the “tree counter”, shrinks to the quarter to 1.5 per cent, to 15 billion planted trees. After all, even the considerable. However, as good as all afforestations were carried out significant size of countries such as China, India or Ethiopia, in the framework of the “Billion Tree Campaign” of the United Nations environment programme (UNEP). This action ended but already in 2011. Plant for the Planet is merely formal successor of the project. Although the NGO trees plants, 7 million in Mexico, should it be in the past. That would be, but only 0.05 percent of all trees in the database.

is Strange that one of the world’s ten largest growers are not only States but also individuals. A “Valf F.” from France is said to have planted 682 million trees, “Deekay” from Egypt 500 million. And, of all things, the energy company RWE will also belong to the tree sponsors. Atonement for the hambach forest?

On request it is, in the case of Plant for the Planet, the thing with RWE was, unfortunately, a “Fake message”, the “accidentally activated”. The NGO promises it will check the database once again, at the request of the TIME explicitly in terms of the strange individuals. A week later, a second e-Mail of the spokesperson: “We had to find that the entries come from the time of the UNEP and, in part, from the time after the Delivery of the tree counter at Plant for the Planet, but before, we have introduced a checking mechanism. The details seem to us very strange, we have contacted all E-Mail addresses. Answers need to be.” You have deleted Numbers, therefore, “as a precautionary measure, doubtful”.

This article dates back to the TIME no 11/2019. Here you can read the entire issue.

So after only two E-Mails the database to 1.4 billion trees lighter, nine per cent of all Plantings. Currently, she is now one of 13.62 billion, mostly from the old UNEP-project. “We assume that the Tree count is now adjusted largely by false positives,” writes the organization and are contrite: The overlooked Fake-entries will be “very, very annoying”. However, no one had taken damage, “because no money was involved”. That may be the case. But what has undoubtedly been damaged, the credibility of the NGO. Who’s who with so many Numbers, should also count correctly.

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