The goal of Tree-Nation is to plant 8 million trees in sub-Saharan Niger, Africa, the world's poorest nation.
The sunny Web site, based out of Barcelona, Spain, provides social networking for would-be huggers and planters of trees. You can donate between $14 to $106 per tree, and then track and map its growth via GPS and Google Maps.
Working with ecologists in Niger, Tree-Nation will nourish the sprouts of the baobabs, acacias and other species in a nursery before transplanting them outside. Although desertification threatens most of the land in Niger, the trees grow in places that receive enough rainfall to support them. Their roots are meant eventually to reach into underground aquifers, bringing otherwise untapped water to the surface and improving the soil.
Tree-Nation says it has planted 5,000 trees so far, with 74 members responsible for 10 more trees in the past day. Organizers of last week's Web 2.0 Summit planted a tree for each attendee via Tree-Nation.
Tree-Nation is one of many Web-based services built to address global warming, pollution and poverty (see also alternative gifts, Kiva, Google's cleanup weekend, and WiserEarth). Such online tools are changing the face of philanthropy, connecting people with causes in parts of the world where they may never travel, and helping people to find others nearby who share charitable interests.
If you prefer to ditch the tech tools and support trees closer to home, Plant Health Alternatives, based out of New Jersey and exhibiting at last weekend's Bioneers conference, offers classes in "tree whispering." The company's backers claim that you can help failing trees sprout new leaves just by talking to them. How's that for social networking?