Young people taking part in a cross-Europe hitch-hiking race have collectively raised €34,340 – around £30,000 – for ITF’s Centenary Campaign, 20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests. This money will fund the planting of over 120,000 trees in Kenya!
Barcelona Express is a hitch-hiking race, devised and run by Belgian travel company Route du Soleil , which took place between the 4th and 10th of July. More than 320 teams of two or three people competed to reach Barcelona in the fastest time from starting points in Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam. The prize was claimed by two women from Paris, 30-year-old Ophelie and 32-year-old Adeline, both of whom receive the prize of a trip around the world!
In return for a place in this year’s Barcelona Express, teams were asked to raise an entrance fee from sponsors. The profits were donated to ITF.
The funds raised will go towards tree planting in our Centenary Campaign – 20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests. We will plant over 120,000 trees, all financed by participants of the Barcelona Express!
Route du Soleil is a travel company with a difference, founded in 2010 by two friends – Simon Vandeweghe and Charles Van Den Bossche – when the two were students together. “Our life goal is to travel as much as possible, have a lot of fun along the road and make the world a slightly better place in the meantime,” says Charles. The company runs several large-scale events each year, including Barcelona Express, the ‘Greatest Hitchhike Competition in the World’. In its seven years the race has grown hugely and already raised thousands of Euros for charity. For 2017, the pair wanted to choose a charity that better represented the race’s new international scope, and decided to donate the proceeds to International Tree Foundation with the aim of planting as many trees as possible.
20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests
The Centenary Campaign aims to plant 20 million trees in and around Kenya’s highland forests before ITF’s 100th birthday in 2024. This will be achieved through local community-based tree planting initiatives.
“Deforestation results in the drying up of Kenya’s rivers and in problems such as flash floods, soil erosion, crop failures and loss of biodiversity,” explains ITF Programmes Manager Paul Laird. “Restoring Kenya’s forests will improve life for local and downstream communities who depend on the forests, and make a contribution to tackling climate change. Crucially it is local community organisations who take the lead in planting trees in the forests and on their farms .”
The trees will be planted in Karuri, an area on the northern side of Mount Kenya where deforestation has been dramatic. ITF’s partner organisation, Mount Kenya Trust, is working with local communities there to restore the forest while increasing farming incomes. The planting should be completed by December 2018. As the trees grow they will help restore the local climate and protect the soil, enhance biodiversity and provide materials to local people.
As young people’s appetite for adventure grows, Barcelona Express is highlighting how hitch-hiking and car-sharing make it possible to travel in a responsible way that limits carbon emissions. In total the teams participating in Barcelona Express this year have travelled nearly half a million kilometres without buying a single litre of fuel! Partnering with ITF has allowed Route du Soleil to make their unique event into a big win for the environment and for Kenya’s rural communities. We look forward to continuing the success of this partnership into the future.