Special Reporting Project: Reforestation


The coronavirus pandemic has postponed many major meetings, such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference (CoP 26), and affected the progress of a variety of environmental initiatives. Among the initiatives are large-scale reforestation projects with both government and private sector buy-in that had goals pegged to 2020. While this has driven an increased emphasis on tree-planting – interesting billionaires from Elon Musk to Marc Benioff who are touting the benefits of massive reforestation – it’s hard to identify legitimate initiatives and even more difficult to figure out which are effective. While national pledges and initiatives such as AFR100 (the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative) often garner widespread initial press coverage, there’s very little follow up to see whether these commitments are actually being met. Between the pandemic’s impacts on conservation and climate initiatives, including reforestation efforts, and the growing interest in tree planting, it is a crucial time to monitor, research, and report on reforestation projects, as well as investigate tree planting organizations to scrutinize their operations and verify their public statements and claims. Currently, no formal third-party certification or verification process exists for forest restoration projects, but journalism can help fill this information gap by providing independent assessments of the quality of a project or organization.

For more information, please watch our webinar about how to cover reforestation.

Series objectives

Stories in this series need to identify the interventions driving successful reforestation outcomes, assess progress and closely examine tree-planting projects from around the world. The SRP aims to improve the effectiveness of reforestation and related investment strategies by making these findings accessible to a global audience and key influencers, such as practitioners in the reforestation sector, tree-planting organizations and investors.

Suggested story topics and guidelines:

We welcome proposals from experienced journalists for conventional news stories, in-depth features, investigative reports, profiles, and case studies. We will also consider proposals for fully edited and produced videos of up to 10 minutes in length. Mongabay is particularly interested in stories that are relevant to one of the following subjects, themes, or approaches:

  • Case studies of “good” and “bad” tree-planting projects on the ground.
  • Feature articles presenting findings from research synthesis on reforestation projects.
  • National level profiles detailing commitments, actions, and projections to achieve targets.
  • News articles documenting the development of reforestation initiatives.

Opinion pieces, or commentaries, will not be considered for this project and are not paid opportunities. Please share commentary pitches using this form and refer to submission guidelines here.

Each story will be between 800 and 2,000 words in length and will include quotes from at least three original interviews. Authors will be expected to provide five to 10 publishable photos free for Mongabay’s use to accompany their articles, along with captions and photo credits.

Mongabay will negotiate all fees and contracts on a per-story basis. Completed stories will be paid on a per word or fixed fee basis, with rates depending primarily on the journalist’s experience. Mongabay.com publishes under an open Creative Commons license that allows for sharing, translation, and re-posting. More information on Mongabay’s editorial standards and practice can be found here.

How to submit your story pitch

To send Mongabay a pitch, please be prepared to also share your resume/portfolio along with three samples of your work. The story pitch should be roughly 500 words in length and include a title for the project. Viable pitches will clearly explain the specific subject you would like to write about in detail and your approach to covering it, and describe a few potential sources. If you are proposing a story that is led by video, please indicate that and include a short description of your video idea. Pitches for video-led stories should also include an expected shot list and interviews.

Please review the complete guidelines on what to include in your pitch here: https://mongabay.org/programs/news/opportunities/

Please use one of the following forms so the pitch is directed to the most appropriate editors: