To celebrate National Tree Planting Day (植树节) on March 12, Ant Financial CEO Jing Xiandong said on March 11 that Ant Forest will invest RMB 500 million ($79 million) in ecological protection by the end of 2018, Chinese media TechWeb is reporting.

At present, there are more than 300 million Ant Forest users. If more than 300 million users continue their efforts for the next five years, Ant Forest says they will plant 500 million actual trees. This will be reforesting 6 million mu (90 hectares), or approximately equal to five times the land size of the New York City.

Launched in September 2017, Ant Forest is a feature in the Alipay app. Users can grow a virtual tree by doing environmentally friendly things such as walking, using public transportation, asking for electronic invoice rather than paper invoice, and recording their own carbon emissions. After the virtual tree is fully grown, Ant Financial matches the user with charity partners such as the China Green Foundation, Elion Foundation, SEE Conversation, and The Paradise International Foundation so that they can plant a real tree.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com