Timberland’s ongoing environmental mission has reached a major milestone. This week, the footwear brand announced that it has planted its 2 millionth tree in the Horqin Desert in northern China as part of its efforts to stem deforestation in the region.
The Stratham, N.H.-based company, a division of VF Corp., has a long track record of outreach in the area. In 2001, an employee suggested the brand take part in the reforestation of the Horqin Desert in inner Mongolia, which was the root cause of sandstorms in Japan.
As a result, Timberland formed a partnership with Japan-based nonprofit Green Network, and over the years has contributed more than 120 million yen (about $1 million at current exchange rates) to the project.
According to the company, roughly 700 hectares (1,700 acres) of trees have now been planted. In addition, the project has helped to protect existing farmlands, improving vegetable production in the Horqin region by an average of 3.9 percent each year from 2000 to 2010.
“At the highest level, Timberland strives to ‘make it better’ — for our products, for the outdoors and for the communities around the globe where we live, work and play,” said Colleen Vien, Timberland’s global sustainability director, in a statement. “Today’s tree planting reinforces our commitment to protect and restore the outdoors and actively engages our employees in making it better for the community here in Horqin and beyond.”
In addition to its efforts in China, Timberland has committed to helping to rebuild communities in Haiti. Since the country’s devastating earthquake in 2010, the brand has been working with the Haiti Smallholder Farmers Alliance to restore tree cover and encourage agricultural production in the area.
Together, they developed a sustainable agroforestry business model wherein farmers voluntarily tend to a network of tree nurseries that annually produce 1 million trees.
After five years of work, the program has helped 3,200 farmers increase the productivity on their farmlands by up to 50 percent, depending on the crop, and raised the household income of SFA farmers 30 percent to 50 percent.
A new documentary from filmmakers Gabriel London and Charlie Sadoff of Found Object chronicles the Haiti rebuilding project. “Kombit: The Cooperative” is scheduled for release in October.