• Paul Coleman

The Wonderful World Tree Planting Festival

With Tentsukuman at the Reception in Inner Mongolia

The Wonderful World Tree Planting Festival was created while Konomi and I were walking through China in 2008, when we were invited by Tentsukuman, a well known Japanese comedian, to lead a group of 120 Japanese volunteers on their mission to plant a 120,000 trees in the deserts of Inner Mongolia to help stop desertification.

A very happy Konomi with an armful of trees

With Konomi and our friend Cliff Spenger, the 'Walking Treeman' we met the group in Beijing, went into the deserts of Inner Mongolia and planted the trees.

Japanese Volunteer Tree Planters in Inner Mongolia

It's amazing what 120 people with the desire to make the world a better place can do in just a few days. Over 100,000 trees planted and a festival every night!

The Walking Treeman towers over everyone at the Inner Mongolian schoolschool children

The four meter tall 'Walking Treeman' was a tremendous inspiration to the children at an elementary school in a tiny village surrounded by the desert and very much loved by everybody as he joined in to plant a hundred trees at the school.

The Bus Conference, with Tentsukuman, Konomi and Cliff

After the tree plantings in the desert we were all so very excited that we turned the twelve hour bus ride back to Beijing into a mobile conference. By the end of it Tentsukuman, the Walking Treeman, Konomi and myself had created the Wonderful World Tree Planting Festival with a mission to hold tree planting festivals around the world. In less that a year we were in South Africa with another 120 volunteers, and Funkist, a Japanese rock band, panting trees and creating permaculture food gardens with Food and Trees For Africa (FTFA) in some of the poorest townships in South Africa.

Members of Funkist rocking away at Swartkop Elementary School

The price of the tour for each volunteer covered the costs of the trees, food gardens, music festivals, food and entertainment. And due to the size of the tour there was tremendous media outreach, and support from government agencies helped inspire corporations to support FTFA in their work creating community and school gardens and their urban reforestation projects.

Japanese Volunteer and South African Children creating a Permaculture Food Garden

“We wish more people could show this kind of initiative as tourists – not only did they come here on their own steam, but they are contributing to internationalisation, leaving their mark – quite literally – on the Nelson Mandela Bay landscape and committing to sustainable and responsible tourism,” said Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) marketing manager, Titus Chuene, as he endorsed the project saying the Japanese group was leading by example.'

https://www.nmbt.co.za/news/japanese_eco-voluntourists_plant_gardens_at_bay_schools.html The Wonderful World Tree Planting Festival activities continue...

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