On July 14, Climate Focus and Planet League will launch a special Women’s World Cup update to the Football for Forests (F4F) app. F4F harnesses the passion of the world’s football fan community to restore tropical forests.
The world’s forests are in injury time. Global rates of deforestation threaten biodiversity, carbon sinks, and livelihoods. The problem is especially acute in the tropics, where the annual rate of tree cover loss nearly doubled from 2001 to 2022. In 2022, the equivalent of nearly 17 football pitches of tropical forest were lost every single minute.
What if the global football community would come together to counter this trend? That is exactly what Football for Forests (F4F) is doing: it is turning this disheartening metaphor around. With the help of the global football community, F4F restores tropical forests, pitch by pitch.
How goals scored become forests restored
The transactional heart of the F4F initiative is a digital platform that allows football fans to donate to the cause and earn tokens that are turned into forests. The premise is simple:
- Football fans sign up to the phone app and choose the team or club they love,
- they contribute a small donation to tropical forest restoration for each goal their team scores,
- as the goals fly in, fans can track how much they and their teams contribute to restoring forests as well as following their team in the league table.
F4F brings a new meaning to the goals scored by iconic teams and players of the world’s beautiful game. In his nearly 20-year career, football legend Lionel Messi has scored over 800 professional goals for club and country. If each Instagram follower of Inter Miami CF were to donate one dollar for each of Messi’s career goals, this would translate to restoring around 160,000 football pitches! The collective passion of the footballing community can help turn these accomplishments on the pitch into restoration impacts off the pitch.
Fans can earn additional tokens (and boost restoration impact!) by answering football trivia in the app. To get started, supporters can download the “Football for Forests” app, available now for free on the App Store and Google Play. Fans of different clubs compete against each other throughout the season to see who can restore the most pitch-sized equivalents of forest. Clubs can join in by promoting the initiative amongst their fans in the hopes of winning the Forest Restoration League. Corporate partners can also participate by matching their employee contributions and using F4F to meet their restoration commitments. Through their participation, partners can bring their restoration commitments to life in a unique and engaging way, demonstrating leadership in climate and biodiversity action to the global football community.
Climate Focus keeps F4F fans and backers up to date on the progress of restoration projects with a transparent and robust impact monitoring system. Implementation of restoration activities is monitored through a combination of professional and community monitoring, with progress reported on the ground on a regular basis. Our monitoring and reporting protocol tracks the area of forests restored in football pitch units (full and half pitches, penalty areas, etc.), including details on the number of trees and species types, estimates on carbon sequestration, among others. The data is fed into our system and then visualized both on the phone app and a publicly available dashboard hosted on the F4F website.
F4F goes public with a special edition for the Women’s World Cup: Fans will be able to select their favorite national team participating in the Women’s World Cup and can select an amount to contribute for each goal that their national team scores. This edition of the World Cup will be a special one. It will be the last for footballing legends Marta of Brazil and Megan Rapinoe of the United States, whose long careers have entertained global audiences and inspired a new generation of female footballers.
Forest restoration keeps the planet healthy
Tropical forest restoration helps to protect essential ecosystems that harbor an immense wealth of biodiversity and are essential to stabilize our climate. The Amazon basin, the world’s largest rainforest area, stores up to 127 billion metric tons of carbon and produces approximately 20% of the world’s oxygen. The Amazon is also home to an abundance of life, containing approximately 25% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
Partnering with Tiempo de Juego, F4F works with youth in the Colombian Amazon who are passionate about football and want to be guardians of their local forests. By promoting leadership skills and environmental awareness, the program will help to strengthen communities and inspire a new generation of environmental leaders.
The F4F initiative has already begun to bear fruit. The first forest restoration site is located in the vicinity of the city of Florencia in the Colombian Amazonian foothills. This region is characterized by the highest deforestation rate in Colombia and is populated by many communities who were displaced by the armed conflict and by natural disasters. Our local implementation partner, Amazonía Emprende, manages habitat restoration activities in an area the size of nearly 30 football pitches and provides opportunities for local youth to get involved in forest restoration. So far, an area equivalent to 7 football pitches has been restored through active restoration, and the remainder of the managed land is being enriched and restored through natural regeneration. The area also supports other important community activities such as regenerative agriculture, sustainable tourism, and honey production.
Our second restoration site is the Yurumí nature reserve, located in the municipality of Puerto López in the savannahs of the Orinoquía region of Colombia. The ambition of the reserve is to enhance biodiversity conservation and drive regeneration and restoration of native ecosystems to allow for recovery of native fauna. Our restoration project supports the reserve’s “Puma Triangle” landscape initiative, which aims to preserve the local Puma population through the creation of biological corridors between riparian forests. F4F has supported the active restoration of 26 pitch-sized areas of forest in the Yurumí reserve. With the help of the F4F community, we will be able to scale our support to reach even more sites and reach our target to restore 10,000 football pitches of forest in the coming years.
Download the app now and make a difference for tropical forests!
Football unites the world and unlocks beautiful emotions. F4F gives football fans the power to align their passion for the beautiful game with the mission to protect and restore the world’s vulnerable forests. The health of the Amazon is a global priority that affects us all.
F4F’s early engagements have demonstrated the promise of the initiative and the boundless passion of the global football community. Across our participating communities, F4F has already contributed to the restoration of 56 football pitch-sized areas of forest. Now we need your help to realize the full potential of the initiative. Download the app today and spread the word to your fellow football fanatics. Together, we can restore the world’s forests — one football pitch at a time.
Football for Forests is a joint initiative of Climate Focus and Planet League, connecting expertise in forest restoration with a jointly held passion for football. The initiative has received generous support from German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), on behalf of the German Government and Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI).