SUNY-ESF helps to set Guinness World Record for planting the most trees in one hour

Courtesy of Justin Heavey

Several members of the SUNY-ESF community helped break a Guinness World Record by planting 202,935 trees across North America from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to New York City on May 20. The SUNY-ESF group planted 1,622 trees in Boonville, New York.

It took only one hour to turn a group of dedicated nature enthusiasts from SUNY-ESF into Guinness World Record holders as they helped plant 202,935 trees across North America.

The Sustainable Forest Initiative Inc. (SFI) partnered with 29 teams — a total of 1,165 volunteers — across North America to set the world record for most trees planted within one hour, according to a press release from SFI. The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry jumped aboard when ReEnergy Holdings LCC, a company that works with SFI, asked them to help out in the tree planting initiative.

SUNY-ESF Senior Research Support Specialist Justin Heavey said ReEnergy is an important industry partner of The Willow Project research group at SUNY-ESF. ReEnergy supports the expansion of the renewable bioenergy industry in New York state and owns and operates facilities that use forest materials to produce homegrown, renewable energy.

“They are conscientious of environmental and sustainability issues and are certified by the SFI who organized this event,” Heavey said. “So, when ReEnergy asked us to lend a hand to plant some trees, we were glad to help out.”

Groups gathered across the continent from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to New York City to plant trees between the hours of 1 and 2 p.m. on May 20. The SUNY-ESF team met at the Sand Flats State Forest in Boonville, New York, a location in need of reforestation following a harvest. At that particular site, Heavey said 1,622 trees were planted.

“Setting the world record is memorable and cool to be a part of, but the real benefit is the fact that over 200,000 trees got planted all across North America and we contributed to that,” Heavey said.

He added that he hopes this project will inspire others to try to break the new record and plant another 250,000 or 300,000 trees.

SUNY-ESF Research Project Assistant Nathan Sleight said rows had been marked out ahead of time on the cleared land in Boonville. The group then split up into teams of two, took bucket of seedlings and got to planting. Once they ran out of seedlings, they would retrieve another bucket of seedlings and get back to work.

“It wasn’t too difficult, but we definitely slowed down over the course of an hour,” Sleight said.

Karl Hallen, SUNY-ESF research support specialist in forest and natural resources management, said in the long run, a sustainably grown forest will emerge from the newly planted trees. They can then be harvested to make room for the cycle to continue.

As a forester, Hallen said the project was right up his alley.

“We planted like crazy,” he said. “I haven’t had time to sit down and think about (setting a world record), but it was cool to be involved in.”

For most who participated, their passion for forestry was enough of an incentive to become involved.

“Planting trees is a fun experience,” Sleight said. “Having it count toward something larger than just planting trees — having it count toward a continent wide initiative — is great.”


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