The Olympic Forest is a contribution to the Great Green Wall initiative, which restores degraded landscapes across Africa’s Sahel region. It will involve planting around 590,000 native trees across approximately 90 villages in Mali and Senegal – host of the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026 – and will cover a combined area of around 2,000 hectares.
In 2021, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) started an initiative to grow 590,000 native trees across approximately 90 villages in Mali and Senegal, host of the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026.
The Olympic Forest is an important element of the IOC’s strategy to address climate change, which includes cutting emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, and reducing the impact of the organisation’s footprint. The IOC is set to cut its emissions 30 percent by 2024 and 50 percent by 2030, and compensate more than its remaining emissions.
Olympic Forest
We do not believe that tree-planting is the only answer to the climate crisis. But, it can be a vital part of the solution.
We want the Olympic Forest to be about much more than planting trees to compensate our residual emissions.
The Olympic Forest is about people, their livelihoods and their resilience. The project aims to create social, economic and environmental benefits for communities in Mali and Senegal that are heavily impacted by climate change.
Increased droughts and floods are leading to the steady degradation of land and sources of food, putting enormous pressure on families across the region.


590000 trees
1860 hectares
14000 trees (260 ha) for agroforestry farmland
576000 trees (1,600 ha) for enrichment and restoration
expected to sequester 200000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (t CO2e)
Food security
Economic security
Climate adaptation
Increased biodiversity
While the initial project will last four years, the IOC plans to open it up in the future to other organisations in the Olympic Movement so that they can contribute and grow the Olympic Forest further.
The Olympic Forest has also inspired National Olympic Committees to create a Network of Olympic Forests in their own countries.


Olmpic forest
Will the tree survive?

We are keen to avoid problems encountered by some tree planting initiatives which have fallen victim to poor planning. In areas like the Sahel with increasingly harsh and unpredictable climates, it’s particularly important that tree species are chosen which can withstand extremes of drought and flooding. Our partner, Tree Aid, put in place a rigorous tree selection process taking into consideration both the community’s economic needs as well as environmental factors.

Tree Aid applies a bottom-up, participatory approach that includes community members in the identification of suitable land, selection of tree species, and agreement as to how the land will be managed in a way that benefits the community and its environment. The team delivers regular trainings, records progress and develops close relationships with authorities in the target zones.

Olmpic forest
What economic value does the project aim to bring to the local community?

The trees planted aim to contribute to the development of sustainable sources of income for the local people, creating an impact for generations to come.

The team regularly collects data from farmers who want to participate and benefit from agroforestry on their land. An initial assessment is carried out to select farmers and villages to make sure they are ready to receive seedlings and/or seeds for direct seeding on their farms. An in-depth consultation with the participants assures that the species demanded by the farmers don’t include potentially invasive or damaging species, for example eucalyptus.

Olmpic forest
What nutritional value does the project aim to bring to the local community?

Together with the local community the project also chose trees that can provide nutrition gardens including nuts and leaves mango trees.

Olmpic forest
What additional benefits does the project aim to create?

Whether offering a shady canopy for communities to gather, or restoring degraded soil, the trees aim to bring multiple benefits for the community. The deep roots are a key tool in the fight against encroaching desertification, holding soil in place and bringing up water and nutrients for other crops to survive.

Where is the Olympic Forest?


The climate crisis is already having devastating consequences in the African drylands. Rising temperatures and changing weather patterns are making it harder for dryland communities to survive. Alongside the climate breakdown, anthropogenic pressures including overuse of land, clearing of forests for farms and overgrazing, mean Africa’s soils are rapidly losing fertility and, in many areas, are no longer productive.
Consequently, people struggle to produce enough food, and poverty and migration are increasing.

Why Africa?

Africa is hardest hit by the climate crisis despite contributing to it the least.
Home to only 17% of the world’s population, it contributes only 4% to global carbon emissions.
The climate crisis pushed up temperatures across the Sahel by nearly 1°C in the last 30 years, almost twice the global average.
In Mali and Senegal, where the Olympic Forest project will take place, communities have seen erratic weather patterns with increased droughts and floods.
Over one third of the population of Mali (43%) and Senegal (39%) are living in poverty.


Diamilatou Guiro
Seydou Olel Kah

Trees provide a solution

They absorb carbon dioxide, a leading cause of climate change. They also improve soil fertility, prevent erosion, and provide shade. Trees also increase community resilience. Where crops fail, trees survive to produce fruit, nuts and seeds, to eat and sell. That’s why we are working with communities to grow trees, restore land, help local communities adapt to climate change and increase their food and economic security.
This is why we are working with local communities to grow trees and restore land to help them adapt to climate change and increase their food and economic security.

tonnes of CO2

Amount of CO2 that the
Olympic Forest is expected
to absorb
The project aims to restore degraded land and farmland areas in designated villages, and sequester 200,000 tonnes of CO2.
This will be achieved through enrichment planting - typically high-density planting on communal land - and the promotion of agroforestry systems - inclusion of trees within agricultural spaces - with the planting of diverse native trees, benefitting both rural communities and the environment.
The Olympic Forest activities are implemented by a Tree Aid. Tree Aid is a non-profit organisation with over 35 years’ experience working with people in the drylands of Africa to tackle poverty and the effects of the climate crisis by growing trees and restoring and protecting land. La Lumière is TreeAid’s local implementing partner working on the ground to deliver the Olympic Forest.
The Olympic Forest is supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).


The amount of carbon sequestered by the Olympic Forest will be independently certified according to Plan Vivo, a standard that supports communities and smallholders at the forefront of the climate crisis. To be certified, the project must also demonstrate the creation of socio-economic benefits for local communities and additional environmental benefits such as the restoration of damaged ecosystems.
Olympic Forest


The project will contribute to Africa’s Great Green Wall, an African-led movement, supported by the UN, with an ambition to grow a wide belt of trees, vegetation and fertile land across the Sahel.

By 2030, the Great Green Wall initiative aims to have...

hectares of land restored
tons of carbon sequestered
green jobs created

Tree Aid and the Great Green Wall


In 2026, Dakar will host the fourth Summer Youth Olympic Games, the first Olympic event to take place in Africa.
After a four-year postponement due to the COVID pandemic, preparations for the Games is on track.
Olympic Forest
In October 2022, IOC President Thomas Bach, accompanied by IOC members Kirsty Coventry and Mamadou Diagna Ndiaye, planted a symbolic native tree at the future Youth Olympic Village in Dakar. This celebrated the first phase of tree-planting activities for the Olympic Forest, which included the planting of 70,000 seedlings.

The IOC’s climate commitment

Learn more
Latest news
  • Olympic Forest Sustainability

    Fighting back against climate change, communities in Mali and Senegal rally around Olympic Forest

  • Olympic Forest Sustainability

    “Olympic Forest is about much more than removing carbon from the atmosphere” – Tree Aid, IOC’s implementing partner

  • IOC President Thomas Bach plants a symbolic tree in Dakar to celebrate the start of the Olympic Forrest Project with 600 000 trees to be planted. IOC President

    Olympic Forest growing as symbolic tree planted by IOC President Bach in Senegal

  • IOC President Thomas Bach meets with Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal Dakar 2026

    IOC President Thomas Bach meets with Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal

  • Olympic Forest project Sustainability

    Olympic Movement steps up climate action, announces network of Olympic Forests

back to top