Planting Trees and Watering in a DesertBy Joe Hong, Regional Human Resources Director, Timberland Asia Pacific.
August 2014, the Horqin dessert tree planting trip - it became one of the most memorable trips I have ever taken.
Most of us have never been working in farms, so tree planting was definitely a new and exciting experience to us. The planting and watering sessions were full of fun and laughter in the beginning, then followed by sweat and fatigue.
3 days, 40 Timberland Asia associates, 400 trees planted and one purpose. The trip was short but very impactful, both physically and mentally.
Compared with the 2 million trees milestone Timberland has targeted to achieve in 2015, the 400 trees we have planted during this trip only accounted for a tiny part. I have been asking myself this question throughout the trip: why is Timberland spending such a trunk of money and resources to send our staffs from different countries to a remote place so far away, not to mention the absence of the senior management away from the busy daily business agendas which directly affect the sales revenue, just for the 400 trees? Things could become much easier if we simply pay the local villagers in Horqin to plant those trees for us, and it sounds much more efficient in terms of cost and resources.
It hit my mind when I sweat under the desert sun with my peers, digging the grooves, planting the sapling trees and watering them. When we participate physically and experience every little moment, something inside our minds have changed unnoticeably. I realized that we were actually doing something good for our earth and the world we live in. We were not only doing it by our hands, we are also influencing the others, bringing everyone together to make this world a better one.
The trip ended, while my journey of sustainability and social responsibility just began. We have planted 400 sapling trees in the dessert this year, and we have also planted more seeds in our hearts, that will root, grow and bloom some day with more and more people around us.
The Past and Present of HorqinBy Molly Gong, Assistant Office Manager, Timberland Shanghai.
Horqin is the hometown of Xiaozhuang in China. It was very well known as a beautiful green utopia. I first visited Horqin in August 2012, I was rather disappointed because it was more like a dessert than a grassland.
Apart from the environment, the trip wasn’t amazed me that much. The transportation network was inconvenient as there was no highway back and forth the airport and hotel. Our shuttle bus was even stuck in the middle of the way due to the bad weather and it eventually took us 4.5 hours to arrive the accommodation. Bad toilet condition was also what scared me most.
In August 2013, I was glad that I have the chance to join the Horqin trip again. I was happy to see the pine trees we planted in 2012 grew very well. Meanwhile, more and more infrastructures of the place are under constructions and a lot of facilities are upgraded.
The highway connecting the airport and the small town we stay during the trip was ready to use, it effectively shortened our travelling time. Nicer community roads and well-developed windmills were also in use. I was so excited to see Horqin has become a more beautiful and modern place with greener environment after a year!
According to Taki San, the founder of Green Network, the pine trees and poplar we planted have become crops for the local people that support the economy. That’s why the local people in Horqin supports the Timberland forest a lot. We all believe that the ecosystem of Horqin will be reactivated and it will become a green utopia again soon!
Touring the Timberland ForestBy Samantha Lau, Marketing Manager, Timberland Hong Kong.
Since 2001, Timberland has been planting trees in China’s Horqin Desert in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region effectively transforming it into the Timberland Forest.
This project, also known as The Horqin Project, is a large-scale tree planting initiative designed to reverse massive desertification. In the past, Horqin was once a rich water and grass resources to the area called the Horqin Pasture. However, overgrazing of the land led to desertification, and the Horqin Pasture slowly deteriorated into the Horqin Desert. This Desert causes terrible sandstorms that sweep across China and neighboring countries.
Having an opportunity to see the Timberland Forest first hand, I was really in awe of this miraculous transformation. It was obvious that this wasn’t something that happened over night, but the sheer growth of the forest is enough to inspire anyone. Being a part of this experience really made me feel proud of the company that I work for as well as the small contributions I made in the forest and to the environment overall.
The Timberland Forest Since 2001
Every year Timberland is slowly but surely returning the Horqin Desert to the Green Utopia that it once was. But it doesn’t stop there, you can see that Timberland is expanding its roots and planting more and more forests all around this region. In this picture, this is another forest that is being planted nearby.
The Timberland Forest Since 2011
This long and tiring march to the desert plant site is a tribute to the previous generation of workers that have planted trees in the region. It was exhausting to say the least, but it gave us all a sense of respect for the work we were doing. Seeing the fruition of the previous goals was an instant motivated to work hard!
Looking at images of these small forests emerging from the desert almost makes it impossible to imagine that not too long ago there was nothing here but sand. No green color at all. No trees, No grass. The hard work of years before inspired me to plant as much as I could while I was there!
In 2013, Timberland had planted over 1,650,000 poplar, willow, plum and pine saplings covering 644 hectares of land. In 2015, we will be achieving the target of 2 million trees planted.
This process is a legacy that Timberland leaves behind. Not only are we helping the environment and the region, but forever ever after we can know that working here, we have truly made a difference in this world!
The Beautiful Scenery in HorqinBy Ghen Akiyama, General Manager, Timberland Japan.
The pictorial beauty of the Mongolian desert spreads in front of me as I write this. The ever-expanding wheat colored sand, the dry whisper of the desert wind, the warm and vivid orange tint of the afternoon sun and the contrasting blue-grey shadows all paint a landscape that is both breath-taking and calming.
It’s hard to imagine that only yesterday I departed Tokyo’s Narita Airport (a city that defines urban-ness), wheeled suitcase following me like a well-trained puppy, to participate in Timberland’s effort to re-forest the Horqin Desert. As the general manager of the brand in Japan, I boarded the flight with a torch-bearing sense of responsibility to continue the dream that my colleagues from Tokyo started in 2001, a little less than 2 million trees ago.
My training as a business manager kicking in, I reviewed program objectivest and strategies. I mapped out how we, a team of expectation-exceeding, stakeholder focused, Yellow boots clad associates were going to reverse massive desertification using our Powerful shovels and Powerful tree trimmers.
However, as our transport bus travelled inland, and as the newly paved roads turned to gravel and the scenery turned from the familiar drab concrete of rural China to the expansive, organic beauty of Inner Mongolia, I found myself thinking less and experiencing more.
As I completed the planting of dozen or so pine trees (an incremental contribution of 0.000006 basis points to total), I realized how audacious it was of me to think that we were going to change anything. Rather, we are here to give nature a little nudge so that she can mend herself.
Inner Mongolia is undeniably gorgeous on the surface, worthy of a postcard or a WeChat share. However, her true beauty certainly goes beyond that. The nurturing soil, rain, sunlight – all contribute to the miracle of nature and life, and only by visiting this faraway land you can immerse yourself in her splendor. Just leave your wheeled bags at home, they are fairly useless in the vast desert of Horqin.
My Very First Experience in Tree
By Jihye Lee, Visual Merchandising Manager, Timberland Korea.
Planting and What I Learn from
I always thought volunteer work was difficult because I had no idea how to start and what to do. Fortunately, this summer, I have got a chance to participate in the Timberland Horqin Reforestation trip as a Pledge Pioneer representing Timberland Korea.
In Korea, people may not be aware of Timberland’s effort in community service. While indeed Timberland has been doing a lot of volunteer works to serve the community and
the environment that we and our consumers live in. This is the reason why I love Timberland. One of the biggest and most important projects is the “Horqin Reforestation project”. Timberland recognizes the responsibility to preserve the outdoors so that its consumers can continue to enjoy the environment and its business can continue to thrive. Therefore, we have been keeping this tree planting program up for 14 years.
The Horqin project began in 2001. Horqin desert is the place where yellow dust originates, so Timberland decided to start planting trees there to prohibit the sand storm. It is not easy to keep a project going for 14 years, especially when this project is not directly related to Timberland’s business. It shows that Timberland is not only doing this for propaganda, we are doing this for good – not only to protect the environment, but also to improve the local people’s lives in long run by providing them with more opportunities.
During this trip, I realized that the dust storm from Horqin also affects Korea. It made me feel so proud because this project gave me a chance to contribute into protecting the environment of my motherland!
As you can see from the below photo, the desert has turned into a much greener place with trees and grasses since 2001. There are monuments on site that marked “The Timberland Forest” and the start year so that people will always remember.
During the activities, I learnt that growing the trees is actually more important than planting the trees. You have to trim the trees by pruning the branches at the lower part regularly so that the upper part can have enough nutrients to grow taller and stronger. This can only be done by a long-term project because sustaining the effort is far more important than starting it.
The interesting tree pruning experience taught me a lesson about life. Sometimes we have to cut out the hassles and endure the pain, so that we can progress and live a better life, just like the pruned trees.
The tree planting and pruning activities during the Horqin trip gave me a valuable experience. It also inspired me to pay more attention to our environment and I will participate more in voluntary work from now on.
Let’s have a Feast and Celebrate!By Charles Chu, Manager, Global Business Technology, VF Asia Pacific.
During the 4-day Timberland reforestation project, one of the most remarkable experiences was the celebration at the welcoming and farewell dinners where the Timberland team had the chance to enjoy the local cultural foods and drinks, as well as to meet, celebrate and share the happiness with our Mongolian friends.
At the welcoming ceremony, our Timberland team had a unique opportunity to meet and greet with the local Mongolian guests who were colourfully dressed up for the dinner. They presented a silver cup of white wine and blue Hada, a silk scarf which is a token of greetings, to each of us one at a time. With the Mongolian lady singing in her local dialogue, each of us received the cup of wine with our left hand, then using our ring finger of the right hand to dip into the wine lightly, sprayed it up into the air, to the ground, on the forehead, and taking up the whole cup of wine in one full sip to show appreciation and respect. The greeting went around the hall until everyone has received the warm welcome from the Mongolian guests.
The Mongolian foods and drinks also certainly posed as an important element to the welcome and farewell dinners. From lamb meat to beef meat made from highly valued authentic Inner Mongolian cattle, their distinctive smell and taste was very unique comparing to the modified dish versions found outside the region. The Mongolian white wine and bottled beers were also essential elements to spice up the fun and spirit for the dancing competition at the farewell dinner night.
Presented at the farewell dinner, in witness of the representatives from Green Network and the local Mongolian guests, ten of the Timberland team members, who pledged to volunteer for conservation efforts, came on stage to receive a small gift as an honour for their generous dedication and also as part of the event celebration. Followed by the late night dance, this marked the closing of the farewell dinner in happiness and joyfulness.
My Amazing Horqin Experience -
By Swan Zhao, Senior Leather Technician, Timberland Zhuhai
Pine Tree Pruning
In the afternoon on the third day, the bus took us to a planned destination after the morning pine trees pruning session. Once we have arrived, we were all stunned by the lines of big poplar trees. These poplars were planted 7-8 years ago. I was so touched by what our afforestation team and Timberland colleagues have been done over the years.
The stunning nature spirited the crew up and people were so excited that they kept taking pictures around.
Poplars do not only bring a beautiful view, they also improve the environment a lot. Like the old Chinese saying, “What we are enjoying today is what people did yesterday!”
From the arrival point to the tree pruning area, we passed through a few small mountains. Lines of pine trees and young grasses are all over the area, I have never endured myself in such a green area before! My nerves were magically sparked up by the rare natural surroundings!
Planting trees is always not an easy task, while it is even more difficult and important to keep them alive and ensure they grow up quickly.
We went to Horqin not just to enjoy the outcomes of what people did previously, but also to contribute in the reforestation program. Trimming poplars was the last yet hardest task over the trip. Although we all enjoyed the process, we all got sore palms the next day!
Looking at the clean tree trunks, I feel so proud of myself because I was doing something to the environment!
“Did you act to protect our globe today?” If you didn’t, act now! Then we and our descendants will surely enjoy a better globe!