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The First Step is to Plant a Tree

On the 12th of October, Wednesday, the 4th edition of “Plantar o Futuro” took place. In the first edition after the pandemic, almost 900 trees were delivered to the academic community, which promptly accepted this challenge.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes and 12 seconds

© João Simões, Helder Berenguer

Temperatures break records and the country burns. It's the new norm for summers. A vicious cycle that brings us closer and closer to a point of difficult return. "It's not my problem, it's for my children and my children's children." It is easier to say that we are at a point of no return, that it is a problem for future generations. We toy with this idea in the hope that it will relieve us of responsibility and make us more serene with our inaction. But none of this absolves us of the consequences. Especially when the problem has a solution.

The premise of Plantar o Futuro” (Plant your Future) is that if each of us plants a tree, one day we will have a forest. If it is important to plant the seed of new ideas and better futures, it is equally important to lay the foundations of those futures in the ground, sometimes in their most literal form. And that is exactly what is done at “Plantar o Futuro”.

Agora Aveiro once again reached out to the Municipality of Estarreja and the University of Aveiro to exchange the acacias and pampas grass, invasive species, for about 900 oaks, ash, alder, willow, birch and hawthorn. Students, faculty and staff  of the University are now the proud adoptive fathers and mothers of these trees and are responsible for them until the end of winter, when they will be reintegrated into the ecosystem of which they will be a fundamental part.

At “Plantar o Futuro”, each seed is more than a plant. Each plant is a little spark that wakes up in people, tired and haunted by a future that is sold to them as bleak and discouraging, the will to continue with their sleeves rolled up and do more. It is necessary to see beyond the smoke, the real and the painted by the media. There is light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps even with a slight green tint, of hope, of new life. And it all depends on a few more pairs of hands that keep the movement for the defense and promotion of indigenous forests alive and gaining ground and their value in mitigating climate change, resilience against fires and conserving biodiversity.

Restoring our forests is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful tools against the climate crisis. The right trees, planted in the right places, could capture two-thirds of the carbon dioxide produced since the industrial revolution within 40 to 100 years. Future generations can witness a better world, and they can do so on our side, if we act today. New forests take decades to mature, and advancing climate change will make it increasingly difficult to establish a system capable of meeting the challenges. And the challenges are many, as are the areas to be planted.

It's important to keep in mind that all marathons are made up of small, steady, recurring steps, one at a time. Our first step is to plant a tree. That's how big changes are made. This is how the future rises.

“Plantar o Futuro” is organized by Agora Aveiro in collaboration with the  University of Aveiro and Municipality of Estarreja. It counts with Glicínias Plaza as "Main Partner", RODI Sinks and Caetano Auto as "Golden Partners" and SIRO - Substratos Profissionais and Casa Martelo as "Silver Partners". It is carried out in partnership with the Biology Department of the University of Aveiro, Núcleo de Estudantes de Biologia - AAUAv and the Exodus Aveiro Fest. It also has the support of the Municipality of Aveiro, the "Voluntariado Jovem para a Natureza e Florestas" Program and IPDJ - Instituto Português do Desporto e Juventude, I.P..

Liane Carvalho