About the project

We rejoice when we breathe the fresh air of Transylvania. Along with historical monuments, traditions and customs, culture and traditional crafts, the air quality in this region is a precious element that is part of the local heritage. The MET Foundation understood the need to protect it and, together with the AccorHotels-Orbis group, has been carrying out an extensive reforestation project since 2009.

True to its proven principles over time, the Foundation is involved in projects that aim to improve the lives of Transylvanian communities, in accordance with the values ​​inherited from generations. At this point, the MET vision fits very well with the Plant for the Planet project, proposed by the AccorHotels-Orbis group: this is how a successful green project began.

Concept

We used to find in high-end hotels, where we stayed at, a card on which it was advised to use the same towel the next day, to reduce resource consumption. In the case of our project, the result is not an abstract one. It is easy to understand where our efforts are directed at: fewer washed towels transform into forests, in the foliage where countless birds reside.

The Accor-Orbis hotel group started the Plant for the Planet project in 2009. The idea of ​​the project was simple: they convinced some of their customers to reuse their towels. The consumption of detergent and water was thus reduced, and the hotel group used half of the funds for a large reforestation project. Plant for the Planet takes place today in 25 countries around the world, and Romania was the only European partner of the group until 2014, when the project became Planet 21. The project is based on a close collaboration between customers and employees of the hotel chain and then between the hotel chain and local communities. Everyone has a key role, and the success of the project depends on everyone’s contribution.

Transylvania is one of the jewels of Romania. The richness of the cultural heritage, the local people, but also the picturesque landscapes and the healthy nature contribute to the good reputation of the region. This precious natural heritage must be carefully preserved and handed over in good condition.

The world is constantly changing, and Transylvania is also changing. Traditional landscapes suffer from economic activities and intensive agriculture or various urban projects facing the area. Pastures, agricultural lands or forests are endangered, and the results affect both the ecological heritage and the primary occupations of the communities. Plant for the Planet project has a dual approach in Romania:

  • Reforestation actions
  • School orchards

Firstly, the MET Foundation and the AccorHotels-Orbis group have launched a multi-year reforestation campaign on large areas in Transylvania. The counties which are targeted include Bihor, Bistrița-Năsăud, Brașov, Covasna, Harghita, Mureș, Satu Mare and Sibiu. The chosen varieties of trees are representative of Transylvania, predominantly oak. Reforestation prevents climate imbalances, stops desertification, floods and stabilizes the soil.

In parallel, Plant for the Planet aims to increase the level of awareness and responsibility of the inhabitants of these areas about environmental protection. Ecological education plays an important role in the project. Educational institutions and local communities are involved in planting actions, under the guidance of forestry service specialists. The project also involves an ecological education session on the importance of forests, and each participating school receives a mobile ecology laboratory. All these aspects are of utmost importance on the project agenda.

We want all children to have a healthy diet which includes lots of fruit. We also want the society in which we live to show a deeper concern for the goods and places that need to be managed together. Through its activity, the Plant for the Planet project contributes to the fulfilment of both desires, and the results are already visible.

The MET Foundation has found a suitable partner in the AccorHotels-Orbis group for the re-establishment of school orchards in Transylvania. Initially, 4 orchards were replanted, in Sibiu and Covasna counties, in Moșna, Biertan, Brăduț and Vârghiș localities, and recently the one from Plăieșii de Jos, Harghita county was re-established. The idea of ​​preserving traditional fruit varieties from Transylvania with the help of students in grades V-VIII was a success; the care of the planted trees is taken over every year by the sixth-grade students, thus ensuring the continuity of the action. The students were involved in large numbers in the planting actions, under the guidance of the teachers, being helped by the fruit farmers and the MET team. Students and teachers participate in the project from the planning phase to the actual planting. Grafting and pruning workshops provide valuable fruit growing knowledge to these communities. School orchards will be a source of grafting in the future, bringing back traditional fruit trees in the area, however the project also stimulates the consumption of healthy fruits, especially among children. So far, a total of 5 school orchards have been established.

The working hours collected in the 11 springs and 11 autumns within the Plant for the Planet project have not been calculated, but we can easily imagine that there are thousands. In the period 2009-2020, millions of trees were planted, which speaks volumes about the scale of the project. Transylvania now has more trees, more volunteers and a plan for the future.

Through the AccorHotels-Orbis group project, 2,520,650 seedlings of oak, beech, spruce, ash, lime, sessile oak, maple and black cherry were planted on the land belonging to the communities of Transylvania. In all these years, more than 8,100 students and 1,905 volunteers were involved in the educational activities and actions of planting seedlings. The project was attended by over 117 schools, 28 forestry services, 60 composesorates, 23 town halls and 7 bishopries and parishes. 576 hectares were covered in the counties of Brașov, Covasna, Harghita, Mureș, Bistrița-Năsăud, Bihor, Satu Mare and Sibiu. As an official recognition of the efforts made during this period, the Plant for the Planet project received several awards for involvement, consistency and good results. These are the First Prize obtained in the Environment and Impact sections of the Civil Society Gala, in 2014, and the Third Prize in the Environment section, in 2010.

Throughout the project we enjoyed the support of exceptional partners. The most important of them did us the honour of marking, with us, the important thresholds that turned into as many victories. Together with the MET team and the executive director, Caroline Fernolend, His Excellency Klaus Werner Iohannis, President of Romania, planted on May 22, 2017, in Brașov, the tree with the number 2,000,000. Prior to that, in September 2015, the 1,500,000 tree was planted by MET together with Gilles Clavie, President and CEO of the Orbis Hotel Group, and Laurent Picheral, Member of the Executive Committee of AccorHotels. The tradition began in May 2013, when the 1,000,000 tree was planted in Archita, Mureș County, by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, in the presence of members of the foundation and the local community.

Planted trees are a long-term investment and the long-term results can be seen. Because “Planting for the future” is a project designed for many years, Transylvanian communities have enough time to strengthen their connection with the environment and learn to work together again, for a better life.

From the very beginning, the project started with big plans, and the expected results are long overdue. In addition to the impressive figures related to planted trees, other results can be seen every day. Meanwhile, the 5 schools already participating in Plant for the Planet maintain their orchards and monitor their evolution. A natural result of this project is the close, auspicious connection that has been created and continues to be created between students and planted trees.

At the same time, the campaign to inform and raise public awareness about the importance of planting and protecting the natural heritage of our country continues. The local communities in the vicinity of which the afforestation actions take place have to benefit from an ecological point of view, but also from an economic point of view. Trees have the power to regenerate the soil, maintain biodiversity and provide additional resources. In conclusion, we can say that the Plant for the Planet project has managed not only to plant many trees, but also to create social cohesion and vibrant connections between humans and nature.

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