When the Sussexes toured Africa in the fall, Prince Harry made sure he put global conservation front and center. “Conservation used to be a specialist area, driven by science,” he said in September. “But now it is fundamental to our survival and we must overcome greed, apathy, and selfishness if we are to make real progress.”
It’s a theme that the Duke of Sussex has continued to make a priority—and his words have been heard loud and clear by fans of the couple around the world. In fact, so inspired by Harry’s efforts, a group of Sussex supporters have launched a grassroots campaign that aims to see 10,000 trees planted and donated around the world in Harry’s, Meghan’s, and Archie’s names.
In celebration of World Children’s Day today, and ahead of U.K. National Tree Week, join online supporters of the former #MeghanMarkle, #DuchessOfSussex, and #PrinceHarry, Duke of Sussex, in the #SussexGreatForest campaign to plant 10,000 trees worldwide. pic.twitter.com/QxChznSEPN
— Sussex Great Forest (@SussexGtForest) November 20, 2019
Announced on Universal Children’s Day, November 20, the #SussexGreatForest campaign aims to honor Harry and Meghan’s commitment to conservation, and safeguarding the environment for future generations. The first trees have already been planted.
Last month, children at The Gopie School in Malawi’s southern region planted 20 fruit trees on their campus as part of a learning module organized by the Sussex Great Forest campaign, which will see the students plant a further 50 saplings before the end of the year as they learn about how to care for trees and the environment.
The ambitious project, which has been spearheaded by a group of 12 Sussex Squad supporters, has also selected four charities for well-wishers to plant trees in the Sussexes’ names (from $1 to $10 per tree). The U.K.-based Tree Sisters is a female network of nature lovers, leaders, activists, daughters, and mothers working to inspire a wide diversity of women to help crowd-fund tropical reforestation. U.S. nonprofit One Tree Planted focuses on planting trees around the world. Britain’s International Tree Foundation is one of world’s oldest tree-planting programs and is involved in initiatives in more than 30 countries. And Kenya’s indigenous Green Belt Movement organization, which was founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, works to engage women in planting trees, empower communities, and help protect critical watersheds.
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Organizer Erica Sanders tells BAZAAR.com that the #SussexGreatForest initiative, which launches ahead of National Tree Week in the U.K., follows in the footsteps of Harry’s #LookingUp social media campaign, which he launched with National Geographic to highlight the importance of conservation and his work on the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy campaign (which has seen 53 Commonwealth countries dedicate indigenous forest for conservation or commit to planting trees to combat climate change).
“This is a global issue that needs global support and we are a global network of people,” she says. “This is our way of giving back to the world and telling Harry, ‘We heard you.’ There are 12 of us in different countries working together online to make this campaign a success, each focusing on different elements, tree plantings, talking to charities, building up the social media platforms. Our aim is big, but the support is strong.”
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Indeed. In the weeks leading up to Archie’s May 6 birth this year, a group of Duchess Meghan fans banded together to create the #GlobalSussexBabyShower social media campaign, which saw thousands of donations made to three charities from supporters in more than 72 countries.
New York–based spokeswoman Rita Anne Wallace adds, “We are inspired by the passion Prince Harry has shown for the environment, Meghan for uplifting women—who are the beneficiaries of some of the organizations we’ve chosen—as well as by young people like Greta Thunberg who are clamoring for us adults to do something to change the world we pass down to them.”
Although #SussexGreatForest is just in its first day, the campaign, which will run until Archie’s first birthday next year, has already seen trees planted by well-wishers across the world, including South Africa, Jamaica, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France. Mother KL Menns is one of many donors and says she hopes her offering will give back to a local community that has embraced her and her daughter since arriving in Lithuania as an immigrant. “Its fruits will be used to make wonderful essential oils and extracts and life-giving seeds,” she says. “In this way, giving is a cycle from earth to community and back to earth.”
California-based Sanders adds that they hope the campaign will also demonstrate just how strong support for the couple continues to be. “We started talking about this in July, but it was the couple’s recent tour of southern Africa that really had us switch gears,” she says. “Not only did we want to counter the biased, negative reporting from some of the British media, we also wanted to show our support in an impactful way. I think Meghan said it best herself when she said, ‘Hashtags are not enough’ to bring about real change. So here we are.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.