#FreetownTheTreeTown campaign – Sierra Leone

The World Bank
Published: 14 January 2022
Last edited: 14 January 2022
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Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, is situated at the edge of a heavily forested mountainous area. The city is expanding rapidly, and urban sprawl continues to cut deeper into its surrounding forest, resulting in steeply declining tree canopy cover. This ongoing deforestation increases the risk of landslides, flooding, and coastal erosion. To deal with rapid urbanisation, population expansion, and low employment rates, the Freetown City Council has initiated the tree-planting campaign #FreetowntheTreetown. The campaign pioneers a sustainable tree-growing model through the engagement of local citizens. Community-based growers use the TreeTracker app to plant, monitor, and maintain new trees. In return, these local growers receive micropayments for their efforts. The goal of the campaign is to plant and grow 1 million trees by 2022, which translates to an increase of the city's vegetation cover by 50%.


West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Area-wide development
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Access and benefit sharing
Disaster risk reduction
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Local actors
Sustainable financing
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Sustainable urban infrastructure and services
Erratic rainfall
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Sea level rise
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Sendai Framework
Target 4: Reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030


Freetown, Western Area, Sierra Leone


In the 2020-21 phase, 250,000 trees were planted, focusing on the steeper slope areas where communities are more susceptible to landslides. Additionally, 50,000 mangrove trees will be planted to restore the coastal wetlands and reduce flood risk. The campaign provides multiple benefits such as improved air and water quality; reduced risk of flooding, landslides and soil erosion; reduction of heat stress; and CO2 capture.


Additionally, the project shows how reforestation can create employment opportunities. Until now, it has created 550 short-term jobs focusing on vulnerable and marginalized women and youth. To ensure sustainable financing, the tree tags can be turned into "impact tokens" which can be traded to outside parties. Revenue from the "impact tokens" is used to finance further tree planting and nurseries.


Lastly, this project provides an example of how regreening cities through tree planting is more than just 'planting' new trees. The growers revisit, maintain, verify and document the plant's growth. Through the active involvement of the local community, the campaign is working towards an 80% tree-survival rate.

Contributed by

eline.vanremortel_41284's picture

Eline van Remortel Earthwatch Europe