Adopt-A-Tree in Athens



Policy areas

Organisation name City of Athens

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Contact person: Grammatiki St. Papazoglou

Adopt-A-Tree is an innovative project of the city of Athens that enables citizens to search for a street tree in their neighbourhood through the free Novoville app, ‘adopt’ it digitally, and commit to keeping it healthy by watering it. The primary goal of the Adopt-A-Tree initiative is to help young trees survive and grow, by preventing trees from drying out caused by the lack of water during summer.

Every year, the city of Athens plants approximately 600 new trees that are placed in its existing or newly formed rows of trees. These newly planted trees need watering 3–4 times per week so they survive summer droughts. The city, during this period, loses 10%–40% of its newly planted trees due to high temperatures and fire protection needs.

The Adopt-A-Tree project is under the umbrella of the wider set of initiatives called ‘Adopt your city’, through which citizens and companies are invited to support the work of the municipality by ‘adopting’ larger areas of the city (e.g. streets, parks, squares). Focusing on individual trees and simple activities, Adopt-A-Tree enhances citizen engagement by using a user-friendly mobile application.

The project operates via the Novoville mobile app and web app, which Athenians have been using successfully since 2018 to report issues to and communicate with the city of Athens. The available trees for adoption visible on the app are distributed across the city. In addition, reminders are sent to the adopters through the app each time their tree needs watering to keep users engaged. Each resident can adopt up to three trees; similarly, each tree can have up to three adopters, who can work together to make a valuable contribution to their neighbourhood. This strengthens collaboration and support at the local level.

The pilot operation of the project was implemented in the summer of 2019. Following citizens’ positive response, the city of Athens launched the updated Adopt-A-Tree initiative in the summer of 2020 with additional functionality, such as the ability to record watering actions. In the first two years of activity, 493 residents performed 622 tree adoptions, while watering was carried out by citizens more than 1000 times.

The results of Adopt-A-Tree were very positive in the first years of operation and extremely encouraging for the continuation of its operation in the city of Athens for years to come. The operation of the project commenced in the following summer, with additional features to enhance citizen engagement and increase its impact such as the rollout of a loyalty scheme, the ability to suggest areas where trees could be planted, the inclusion of more adoptable trees, and the ability for companies or organisations to adopt larger green spaces (e.g. tree lines and parks).

To adopt a tree, residents just follow the four simple steps below:

  • They download the free Novoville mobile app for Android and iOS devices, or visit the Novoville WebApp on the City of Athens website.
  • They tap the ‘Adopt-a-Tree’ button on the home screen to view all adoptable trees.
  • They zoom the map to their location and choose a tree by tapping on it. They can learn more information about it and adopt it by selecting ‘Adopt me!’
  • Every time they water the tree, they record the action by tapping on ‘I watered my tree!’
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