Sheldrick Wildlife Trust staff with saplings grown from seed. All photos courtesy of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Planting a Future

Our ongoing 1 Lipstick = 1 Tree campaign has resulted in 120,000 trees planted in Kenya—and counting. Here’s how these saplings are making it into the ground and doing their part to combat climate change.

In 2018, we partnered with The Perfect World Foundation to use proceeds from our Lip Cristal to plant trees in a virtual global network of forests. Choosing a location proved easy: Our friends and longtime partners at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust were looking to plant trees on a large scale around the boundaries of two nearby National Parks as well as forests that SWT protects and manages.

Planting starts outside of Tsavo National Park.

Over two years, we donated 120,000 saplings, which were planted with the help of SWT’s staff and local communities abutting both Tsavo and Chyulu Hills National Parks. Now we are renewing our campaign with our latest Lip Cristal, pledging to plant 1 tree for every lipstick sold.

Why is the Trust, known for its pioneering work rehabilitating elephant, rhino and other wild animal orphans, planting trees? “We must take care of the big picture, the picture that will affect their futures and all of ours,” CEO Angela Sheldrick says. Degradation is occurring rapidly. “In Kenya, the greatest challenge in the future will be lack of water. The forests so crucial to its recharging have shrunk enormously—the charcoal industry has laid bare huge swaths of land throughout the country—and the overgrazing of livestock is causing desertification to creep in.” All of it, of course, is compounded by population growth. Because SWT manages protected areas with prolific water sources, “We have the infrastructure to achieve this sort of project successfully,” Angela says.

SWT grows all its trees from seed in three main nurseries: Kaluku, on the boundary of Tsavo East National Park by the Athi River; Kibwezi Forest, “a groundwater forest with percolating crystal-clear springs that rise to the surface,” according to Angela; and on Amu, a community group ranch that SWT manages with the Lamu Conservation Trust. Here they grow largely indigenous trees, including acacias, tamarinds, baobab, mahogany, fig, wild magnolia, and Kegalia (sausage) trees. These dense plantings benefit wildlife too, while the project “provides much-needed employment for impoverished communities, who learn that contributing in these positive ways can be more beneficial than living off the land, which is unsustainable in arid areas, and denuding it to the point of no return,” Angela says.

Women from a community near Chyulu Hills National Park are planting the tree species Melia Volkensaii. 

Forests, of course, are essential to mitigating climate change, thanks to their ability to capture and store harmful greenhouse gases. “We breathe the same air across the planet, so CO2 is a global matter,” says Lars Jacobsson, chairman and co-founder of The Perfect World Foundation, based in Gothenburg, Sweden, who is spearheading the Attenborough Canopy. Trees planted anywhere in the world contribute to collective carbon reductions. “But if you’re planting a tree in Kenya, it grows faster than if you plant it in Sweden,” he adds. Which brings us back to the story behind Lip Cristal: Trees planted below the equator in Africa will actually help preserve the polar ice cap, which will remain key to our planet’s ecological balance—and our collective futures.

← Back to Le Magazine