Ant Forest users plant 55m trees in 507 square kilometers

By Xu Keyue Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/18 22:38:39

Pupils plant trees at a scenic spot in Geyucheng Town of Langfang City, north China's Hebei Province, April 20, 2018. Activities were held across China to greet the upcoming Earth Day which falls on April 22, 2018. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese net users have found a new way to battle desertification in the country by playing virtual planting games. 

Ant Forest, which is under Ant Financial of the Alibaba Group, told the Global Times on Monday that they had planted 55,520,000 trees covering about 507 square kilometers across China from 2016 to 2019. 

Ant Forest is the first such game in China. It combines the internet, finance and a low-carbon lifestyle and contributes to mitigating desertification, an Ant Forest manager surnamed Jiang told the Global Times on Monday.

In the "Ant Forest" scheme, any activity considered low-carbon, including walking, taking public transport and online payments, will be converted into virtual "green energy." The energy will be used to grow a virtual tree in the user's "forest." Users exchange it for a real tree by paying the corresponding energy. 

Ant Forest will plant the real trees in spring and autumn each year with the help of local authorities in desertified areas mainly in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Jiang said. 

"Planting online trees has become a popular activity especially among young Chinese people," said Jiang.

Users earn a planting certificate each time they plant a tree. Those with three planting certificates can apply for a certificate of voluntary tree planting issued by the China Green Foundation under the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, which helps motivate users to plant more trees online.

After Ant Forest, more online planting platforms were released including Internet Trees Planting launched by China Green Foundation to help poverty-stricken areas.

A recent NASA study highlighted China's ambitious tree-planting programs between 2010 and 2017. Many Chinese net users said that they were so proud that they had made a contribution, albeit minor, to the greening of the world through online games.
Newspaper headline: New game fights desertification

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