Jimmy Fallon to Plant a Tree for Dr. Jane Goodall for Her 'Trees for Jane' Campaign

The renowned conservationist talks to PEOPLE about encouraging everyone to plant a tree (or many!) to help absorb greenhouse gases that are heating up the atmosphere — and save the planet

Jane Goodall
Dr. Jane Goodall planting a tree. Photo: Jeff Horowitz and Mia Sorensen

Jimmy Fallon is doing it.

"I think Angelina Jolie will, also," Dr. Jane Goodall tells PEOPLE.

"Everyone can get involved," the iconic conservationist says about her Trees for Jane campaign, which launched Tuesday.

Whether you live in the suburbs, out in the country or in the big city, "anybody can do this," she says.

Known for her groundbreaking study of chimpanzees in Africa and being a fierce protector of the environment, Goodall, 87, is speaking with PEOPLE from England during Climate Week NYC. It's held at the same time the UN General Assembly is in session to discuss the global climate crisis.

Jane Goodall
Dr. Jane Goodall. The Jane Goodall Institute/Derek Bryceson

With the Trees for Jane campaign, "Everybody can plant a tree, or give money to people who are planting trees and restoring forests on degraded land," says Goodall, DBE and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and its Roots & Shoots program for young people.

Most important of all, she says, "is protecting the trees that already exist in the forests, especially the vast Rain Forest."

On Wednesday night, designated "Climate Night" by the late-night talk shows, Goodall appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to talk about her upcoming book, The Book of Hope, and the Trees for Jane campaign.

"It's a way for every single person to feel involved," she told Fallon. "With our new website you click on a button and immediately become part of a global community that is taking action to help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by planting trees."

Fallon is already doing his part. Pulling a small potted tree from behind his desk on Wednesday night's show, he said to Goodall, "We wanted to help so The Tonight Show is planting this tree for you."

Addressing his audience, Fallon said, "It's your turn out there. Please plant a tree. Do it for Jane. Do it for all of us."

Governments Need to Take Action

With the climate crisis worsening at a faster pace than experts had predicted, and the number of fires, hurricanes and other climate-driven natural disasters happening more frequently, Goodall says the time to act is now.

"Climate change is hitting us," she says. "The hurricanes are getting much more frequent. The droughts are terrible."

"Now that it's hitting Europe and the US and not just Bangladesh and India, it's going to wake up some of our pussycat governments who haven't cared so far because it had nothing to do with us before," she says.

The world's most industrialized nations who are doing the most polluting need to change the way they operate, she says: "We have this absurd idea we can have unlimited economic development and plan it with finite natural resources and a growing human population."

That's not possible, she says.

Trees for Jane Campaign

"If we plant now," she says, "the hope is that in 20 years, all these trees will be growing because of Trees for Jane."

Trees for Jane was inspired by the Trillion Trees Challenge, a UN initiative that aims to plant 1 trillion trees by 2030. That's the number of trees needed to offset most of the carbon dioxide produced from emissions (from burning oil, gas and coal) that causes the planet to overheat.

The Trillion Trees Challenge works with corporations and governments to plant trees, which is necessary, says Goodall.

"But it didn't have a grassroots movement," she says.

That's where she and her "partner in crime," award-winning filmmaker and founding Trustee of the Jane Goodall Legacy Foundation, Jeff Horowitz, come in.

Jane Goodall
Dr. Jane Goodall. JGI USA/Bill Wallauer

"Jeff came up with this wonderful campaign where everybody can get involved," she says.

They teamed up with HP, which is a founding partner of the campaign.

Anyone who plants a tree as part of Trees for Jane campaign can register it and get a digital certificate.

Tree planters are encouraged to post their accomplishments on social media.

Tree Planting Tips from Jane

"Trees for Jane is not just popping a tree in the ground," says Goodall, who has planted "hundreds" of trees all over the world, from China and South Korea to Africa and Europe.

Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall. Jeff Horowitz and Mia Sorensen

"It's got to be the right tree in the right soil planted at the right time of year," she says.

Plant a tree that's native to the land, she says.

"Match the soil to the type of tree and the type of tree that you find mostly in the landscape," she says.

Don't forget, she adds: "It's got to be looked after." (The Trees for Jane website offers tips for tree planting to make it super easy.)

"I suggested that every tree planted somebody should take a photograph a year later," she says.

Urban tree planting is crucial, she says: "It brings shade. It helps to cool the place down. It cleans the air and nature comes in — birds and insects. This is good for physical and mental human health."

Plant a Tree — Yesterday, Says Jane

"It's going to take a while for that tree that is planted now to be big enough to capture carbon dioxide in sufficient amounts," she says.

"There's a lovely Chinese proverb which says, 'The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago' — I love that," she says. "It just hits the nail on the head."

Jane Goodall
Jeff Horowitz and Mia Sorensen

Barring that, she says, "The second best time is now."

For more information on Trees for Jane, please visit TreesforJane.org.

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