Heroes

More than 44,000 people came together to set the Guinness World Record for reforestation.

More than 44,000 people came together to set the Guinness World Record for single-day reforestation efforts.

More than 44,000 people came together to set the Guinness World Record for reforestation.

A group in Ecuador set a world record over the weekend by planting nearly 650,000 trees in a single day.

Agence France-Presse reports that on May 16, 2015, nearly 45,000 people took part in the largest single-day reforestation project ever. In total, 647,250 trees (and more than 220 species of plants) were planted on roughly 5,000 acres of land, marking a new Guinness World Record. Woo!


Volunteers begin reforesting an area near Catequilla, Ecuador. Photo by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images.

Better than just a world record, these reforestation efforts will help Ecuador reach its own national target to conserve and restore more land than is deforested between 2008 and 2017.

Since 2008, the country's environment department notes, deforestation has been reduced by more than 50% of the historical rate, protecting 4.3% of the total land area (which comes out to the equivalent of something like 840 million trees, but who's really counting, anyway?).

A child plants one of more than 200 species of plants during Saturday's record-setting day. Photo by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images.

Reforestation helps offset the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through "carbon sequestration."

Essentially, there are two approaches to reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere: reducing the amount of emissions being produced (obviously) and sequestration, which deals with the carbon itself.

Trees naturally absorb carbon dioxide, pulling it from the atmosphere and using it for — you guessed it — fuel. Trees have some other benefits, too, like improved air, water, and wildlife, and some protection against erosion.

Photo by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images.

Trees are absolutely crucial to the fight against climate change.

While this seems pretty obvious, it's easy to forget. A great many things can affect climate change, from the things we eat to the cars we drive to the energy we use to power our homes. But the number of trees out there absorbing carbon are important factors, as well. Deforestation intensifies climate change, and reforestation and conservation efforts help push back.

Imagine how good things could be if every country had a day like this.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.