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How D&AD Pencil-winners are helping grow forests in Beirut and Australia

The story behind D&AD’s Pencil for a tree initiative where we plant four trees for every Pencil won

The Beirut RiverLess Forest: trees and shrubs first planted in 2019 (left) and fifteen months after planting (right)

For the last three years, D&AD has been planting a tree for every Pencil awarded, in partnership with D&AD Future Impact winner Adib Dada’s innovative afforestation project theOtherForest. Located in the Chiyah region of Beirut, the project has been rewilding dense urban areas into lush native forests and providing green spaces for the local community to thrive.

Now, in an update to this work, we have joined up with Everclime to increase the number of trees planted to an average of four for every pencil awarded. This exciting new partnership will allow D&AD to plant an estimated 5,000 seed pods and restore an estimated 62,500m2 of forestry per awards cycle. Working with Everclime, the D&AD community will be directly connected to legacy impact, and dynamic profile pages will showcase and demonstrate the investment and impact generated by our Pencil-winners. In 2024, our seed pods will go to New South Wales in Australia, contributing to a project that establishes koala habitat and food trees (swamp mahogany Eucalyptus robusta) within the Cattai Wetlands after bushfire and flooding events caused widespread damage in 2019–2020.

We have joined up with Everclime to increase the number of trees planted to an average of four for every pencil awarded

During our two-year partnership with theOtherDada, we've planted over 1,300 trees in Lebanon. Dada says, “After planting more than 700 native trees with the local community, we are excited to share that (the D&AD forest) is our fastest growing forest. It is quickly becoming a great source of shade for spectators and sports-players at the municipality’s sports field. During planting, players of the local soccer club spontaneously joined us after their game. One player, who had just covered photosynthesis in school, instantly connected to the planting and said, ‘so when the plants breathe we can breathe better when we play too.’”

Using the Miyawaki technique of afforestation, the trees and shrubs are biodiverse and sequester 30 times more CO2 and pollution. “We are providing an opportunity for [Lebanese] municipalities and their community to partake in reclaiming degraded urban spaces — literally ripping out concrete and asphalt — and turning them into thriving ecosystems,” Dada says. "This is providing a haven for wildlife, helping in reducing temperatures in the city, and allowing for stormwater to infiltrate the ground and recharge aquifers"

The first phase of 'The & Forest' began in November 2021 and is located in the Chiyah area of Beirut

During our two-year partnership with The Other Dada, we've planted over 1,300 trees in Lebanon

 “Importantly, the forest will become completely self-sufficient in less than three years, requiring no water nor maintenance after that initial period,” explains Dada. Rita Tawil of the Chiyah Municipality adds, "I think the trees will be very helpful because they will replace the hot asphalt and shade the park, which will have a positive impact on the park and for those who come to walk."



theOtherDada founder Adib Dada won a Future Impact Pencil in 2019 for his work on Beirut's RiverLESS Forest. Now called theOtherForest, the project addresses the deterioration of the polluted Beirut River and its negative impact on the surrounding communities and environment by planting saplings near the river.

As part of the Impact programme, in which winners are offered 12 months of mentorship and training to support the development of their work, Dada worked with mentors Deborah Alden, Global Strategy & Design Leader for Principle and Adaptive Organisations and Marsha Meredith, VP Creative Director at Cowboy, to develop the project. The goal was to redefine the vision and mission of theOtherForest.

“I worked with Deborah on defining my added value and impact, beyond just the technical aspects of my work"

“Marsha insisted on building brand awareness and the importance of storytelling, especially given the fact that my work had so much rich content to be shared that could easily become overwhelming,” says Dada. “She helped me define a clear structure and streamline our brand and approach,” he says, adding, “I worked with Deborah on defining my added value and impact, beyond just the technical aspects of my work. She helped me understand where I can affect meaningful change.”

After seeing the progress that Adib’s team was making on the programme, and in order to further support the great work they are doing in Lebanon, D&AD decided to fund the planting of a tree for every Pencil presented at the D&AD Awards. This planting programme will work towards reclaiming around 700 sqm of urban space, and rewilding it into native forests for public access.

Next up, Dada is looking to introduce afforestation in other cities such as Riyadh and Cairo. He says, “The urban scale is massive, water is very scarce, and their vision is bold and clearly recognizes urban greening as an essential element of their new urban vision and improved livability,” adding, “I believe our approach can restore their degraded urban lands into thriving ecosystems instead, bringing value to both humans and other organisms.”

The D&AD Impact Programme is open to anyone shortlisted in the Future Impact category. The 12-month programme offers mentorship, training and visibility to support project owners with the ideation, launch and early growth of their work. Successful entrants will also have the opportunity to apply for a grant from the D&AD Impact Fund. The D&AD Awards 2024, including the Future Impact category, is now open for entries.