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Manja Kargbo, Freetown the Treetown
and Restore Nature
2023 Finalist

Freetown the Treetown

Nominated by:

Combining community stewardship and digital tools, the City of Freetown’s initiative, Freetown the Treetown, is galvanising a grassroots movement for tree preservation in Sierra Leone’s capital.

Over the past half century, Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, has undergone rapid population growth, resulting in the loss of millions of trees due to urban development in the city.

With its population on track to reach more than two million by 2030, urban sprawl is encroaching on the forested, mountainous peninsula outside the city. Seventy percent of Freetown’s trees have been cut down, and the city is already experiencing negative effects from the loss of these critical ecosystems. In 2017, devastating floods and landslides swept through Freetown, tragically taking the lives of 1,000 people. Such disasters, along with coastal erosion, are becoming more common.

Freetown the Tree Town's Solution

Led by Manja Kargbo, Freetown the Treetown is an ambitious, city-led, “pay-to- grow” scheme to plant, grow and digitally track trees, which aims to restore what has been lost and protect it for future generations. Through this initiative, city residents are paid to plant and monitor trees and mangroves, which are tracked via an online platform. The initiative is funded with tokens sold on private and carbon markets. The city council also works with locals to raise awareness of the importance of its trees and engage the community in restorative activities.

“Freetown has been on the frontlines of global climate change and our people are already directly impacted by the realities of a changing climate that creates stronger storms. By combining community engagement with innovative digital tools, we believe we have a powerful solution that allows urbanisation and conservation to co-exist, as well as a model that other cities can use to protect and empower their communities. We thank The Earthshot Prize for their recognition of our important work.”

Former Mayor and Mayor-Elect of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr

Their Impact

Freetown’s initiative has proved immensely successful and provides a model that other cities struggling with deforestation can replicate. The city is on course to meet its ambitious target of planting one million trees by 2024, and thanks to the city’s tree guardians and the platform used to track and monitor planting, they have seen an excellent tree survival rate of over 80%. Freetown The Treetown offers hope not only for Sierra Leone but for the world.

Connect with Freetown the Treetown

Other 2023 Protect & Restore Nature Finalists

Learn About the Earthshots

and Restore

By 2030, we choose to ensure that, for the first time in human history, the natural world is growing – not shrinking – on our planet. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Protecting areas of high biodiversity such as forests, wetland, peatlands and wildlife corridors
  2. Restoring damaged ecosystems
  3. Feeding people while protecting nature
Learn more about this Earthshot

Clean Our

By 2030 we choose to ensure that everyone in the world breathes clean, healthy air – at World Health Organization standard or better. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Engaging citizens in data collection and clean air policies
  2. Preventing the burning of fields, forests and waste
  3. Transitioning to clean transportation for all
Learn more about this Earthshot

Revive Our

By 2030, we choose to repair and preserve our oceans for future generations. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems
  2. Replenishing fish populations
  3. Reducing demand for fishmeal
Learn more about this Earthshot

Build a

By 2030, we choose to build a world where nothing goes to waste, where the leftovers of one process become the raw materials of the next – just like they do in nature. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Reducing food loss from farm to fork
  2. Phasing out single-use and non-recycled plastics
  3. High-value circularity in fashion and electronics
Learn more about this Earthshot

Fix Our

We choose to fix the world’s climate by cutting out carbon: building a carbon neutral economy that lets every culture, community and country thrive. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Creating an equitable clean energy future
  2. Addressing non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions
  3. Decarbonising hard to abate sectors
Learn more about this Earthshot
The Earthshot Prize