This blog is part of our Living Climate Change series, about the impact of climate change on global communities and how you are helping to protect the environment. Read more articles on our Environment page.
Alhamdulillah, we are delighted to tell you that, in 2021 alone, you planted over 67,000 olive trees in Palestine! Incredibly, you gave £550,000 towards this project, investing over half a million pounds into providing food, creating livelihoods and protecting the environment.
We want to share some stories from the ground and tell you about the amazing benefits of planting trees (in this life and the next). But first, let's discuss the environmental impact of this project.
How do trees protect the environment?
Trees are astonishingly vital to wellbeing of our planet.
Firstly, they are essential to our planet's atmosphere. Through the process of photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air, reducing the 'greenhouse effect', while supplying human beings and animals with oxygen. They also purify the air of pollutants, so planting trees in urban environments improves the local air quality.
Secondly, trees are one of our carbon sinks. This is an area which not only captures carbon, it also stores it. Forests store different amounts of carbon depending on their soil type, how many trees they include and how old these trees are. Other examples of carbon sinks are the ocean, as well as fossil fuels (which release carbon into the atmosphere when we use them for energy, but store carbon when left alone). Wood is an incredible carbon sink because it is made entirely of carbon, which is stored until the tree dies and decomposes.
Thirdly, trees stabilise the soil and prevent soil erosion. This is when the topsoil is loosened by wind or rain and is carried away into rivers, streams and lakes. Topsoil is fertile and filled with countless microorganisms, so when it is washed away, it reduces the crop productivity of the land. Moreover, if it contains fertilisers or pesticides, these can pollute the water and harm its ecosystems.
Trees prevent this soil erosion through their root systems, which extend deep into the ground and spread out in large stems and fine filaments. This holds the soil in place, meaning it is less likely to be washed away or damaged by the wind. The roots thus keep the soil healthy and fertile.
Finally, trees give life to the world’s wildlife, hosting complex ecosystems of birds, insects, fungi and more.
You are part of the fight against climate change
Despite the proven importance of planting trees, deforestation continues to be alarmingly widespread. According to One Tree Planted, 46% of the world's forests have already been destroyed. This deforestation comes in many forms, including clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, as well as unsustainable logging and more.
These statistics remind us how essential it is to keep planting trees, so we can fight back against the harm which consumerism is inflicting upon our planet. Each tree takes many years to grow, so this is an intervention which human beings must commit to over the long-term, but it is ultimately essential to the wellbeing of the earth.
You are a part of this solution. In 2021, you donated over 75,000 trees (including olive trees in Palestine and fruit trees elsewhere) and we hope you continue to give in 2022.
What are other the benefits of planting trees?
Aside from environmental benefits, planting trees is essential for farming communities who depend upon the crop for income. Olive trees alone account for the livelihoods of around a million Palestinians, subhanAllah.
Globally, farmers are often held back from cultivating their land due to lack of water, proper tools or being unable to afford seeds. Giving them trees to plant both increases their income and helps them build a stable livelihood. In sha Allah, every harvest will help them pay for food, rent, medical care and more resources to grow their business.
Moreover, trees are a major source of nutritious food for farming families. Every fruit - olives, mangoes, figs - has unique benefits which will protect their health as well as reduce the hunger in impoverished communities. This is an ongoing benefit - the single tree you give will be harvested over many years, in sha Allah, yielding more life-giving fruit to some of the most vulnerable people in the world.
SubhanAllah, they are truly an amazing miracle: food, livelihood and environmental protection all packed into one seed which benefits generation after generation.
Nael's family live around 18km southwest of Nablus. His village is famous for olive, fig, grape and almond trees, as well as the cultivation of grains and vegetables. Nael has a staggering twenty years of experience as an olive farmer, ma sha Allah. But he could not afford to take care of his trees any more, because the cost of living is high in Palestine - including the price of water he needs to irrigate his land.
Nael has six children and he works hard as a day labourer to provide for them, trying to care for his olive trees in his free time. Two of his daughters - Hanan and Lynn - have Down's Syndrome and Nael was always stressed that he would not be able to meet their needs.
By planting olive trees on Nael's land, you have given him the opportunity to earn more income from his crop, giving him more resources to provide for his children. Our team said that his family were so happy when they received your gift and Nael hoped that it would ease his family's suffering, in sha Allah.
SubhanAllah, trees are truly an amazing miracle: food, livelihood and environmental protection all packed into one seed which benefits generation after generation. Moreover, the benefits continue into the next life, as we shall see.
What is the Islamic perspective on planting trees?
As the problem of climate change continues to worsen, we know that many people are worried that their efforts are just a 'drop in the ocean'. But every action, no matter how small it seems, makes a difference.
Islam is a religion of hope and the Prophet (saw) always encouraged us to take positive action while trusting in Allah (swt). Ultimately, our intention and our effort are what we have control over - but the outcome lies with Allah.
Moreover, your actions don't seem small at all to families like Nael's. In fact, it means the world to them that people whom they have never met are cultivating their land and trying to support them. In sha Allah, your Sadaqah Jariyah has transformed their lives in more ways than you know.
We pray that Allah rewards you immensely for the significant good deed of planting trees! As the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'No Muslim plants a tree or sows a seed and then a bird, or a human, or an animal eats from it but that it is charity for him'. [Bukhari]
Frequently asked questions
When are different trees planted?
Our planting times vary depending on fruit tree and location. For example, olive trees in Palestine are planted from November until January or even February. (The 67,000 trees you gave in 2021 were thus planted at the end of the year).
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, you planted 8,000 fruit trees in 2021, which included lemon, guava, plum and several more! Our Pakistan team planted trees in spring (mid-February till the end of March) and early fall (mid-August till the end of September).
In other locations, the planting and harvesting times will also vary.
How much does planting a tree cost?
It costs £15 to plant an olive tree in Palestine.
All our other fruit trees cost £25. Rather than you selecting a specific tree, our team on the ground will decide which type of fruit tree is best for the community they work in. These include apricot, fig, almond and more.
Do I get a certificate when I plant a tree?
If you give through our Great Charity Gifts website, then you will get a certificate. Alternatively, you can call us at 0115 911 7222 to let us know you want a certificate with your tree. You can decide what name is on your certificate.
Can I give a tree as a gift?
Yes - by using Great Charity Gifts, you can donate either an olive tree or a fruit tree as a gift. You can choose from our selection of gift cards plus personalise a gift certificate for your loved one. You can choose to receive the card and certificate via post or email.
Can I plant on behalf of someone else?
Absolutely! You simply need to make the intention to give this Sadaqah Jariyah on behalf of someone else. If you want a certificate to show this, use Great Charity Gifts or call our team at 0115 911 7222.
Finally, we would like to thank you all for giving so generously to our tree-planting projects in 2021! Your support is essential to tackling hunger, providing livelihoods and protecting the environment. We pray Allah rewards you generously for your efforts so far and gives you more opportunities to do good in 2022 and beyond, amin.
Muslim Hands is an award-winning charity, established in 1993 to provide emergency relief and tackle the root causes of poverty. We hope this article was useful to you! Find out more news about related projects on our Environment page.