Freetown, located at the seaward tip of a heavily forested, mountainous peninsula, is the capital of Sierra Leone, dominating its urban, economic, and social landscape. Each year, more than 100,000 people in search of employment move to the city, and the urban fringes continue to push deeper into the steep forest expanses outside the city. As a result, an equivalent of 12% of total canopy in the area was lost per year between 2011 and 2018.

Loss of tree canopy directly affects catchment areas for water reserves, exacerbating the risks of landslides, flooding, and coastal erosion. Loss of tree and vegetation cover also threatens biodiversity. Against the backdrop of population expansion and rapid urbanization, the Freetown City Council came up with a plan to plant and grow 1 million trees by 2022—an effort that would increase the city’s vegetation cover by 50%.

The #FreetowntheTreeTown—an unconventional tree-planting campaign. This innovative effort harnesses digital and disruptive technology to create employment opportunities for local youth during the COVID-19 pandemic; it also helps establish long-term climate resilience for the community. The campaign comes with ecosystem benefits that include reducing heat stress, improving air and water quality, and reducing flooding and landslide risks.

Innovation SL is a partner in The #FreetowntheTreeTown