“I wanted to do something to secure the future of my daughter and future generations” – Interview with Pascal Girardot


Pascal Girardot encourages people with the Citizens Forests association and supports them in starting so-called “Tiny Forests” on their own doorstep.

Pascal Girardot founded the Citizens Forests association with Boris Kohnke in 2019. He used to be an airline manager, but after a burnout, he realised that he needed a job with purpose. Today, he encourages people and supports them in starting so-called “Tiny Forests” on their own doorstep. And they are knocking down open doors, because everywhere there are motivated people who want to get stuck in, everywhere there are unused areas and everywhere there are people or companies who are willing to donate to local projects. And more green space in the city centre is good anyway. In the interview, you can find out how this idea came about and where the journey is heading.


What problem do you solve with Citizens Forests? Why exactly does it need your solution?

Our association is convinced that society as a whole can take action against climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Planting new forests is a simple and very efficient way to improve living conditions on our planet. As Citizens Forests, we provide all interested people with free reforestation know-how and encourage them to start their own forest project (possible from 60 m2) and we bundle all financing options.

What did you do before you started the current project/company?

I was a manager at an airline. After a burnout, I no longer saw any point in working in this job and industry. Seven years later, after many ups and downs, I came up with the idea of founding Citizens Forests. I wanted to do something to secure the future of my daughter and future generations.

What or who motivated you to become a social entrepreneur?

There was a kind of inner, philosophical restlessness within me. In view of the enormous problem of climate change, there should be a way for us to act together as a society. It was inconceivable to me that there could be no solution. Through the german book “Drawdown – the plan: how we can reverse global warming” by Paul Hawken, I became aware of the effect of a massive reforestation and the Miyawaki method (Tiny Forests). All that was missing was a scalable concept. Today, we have already supported 29 small forests in Germany.

Which of your achievements have been particularly memorable for you?

Around 40 people came together for the first planting campaign. By the second, there were already more than 180 and we had to ask the participants to plant a maximum of 5 trees per person. The turnout was huge and there was an incredibly positive atmosphere. So many smiling faces, so many people of all ages and different backgrounds. It was very touching and by the end of this campaign, all members of the association knew that our concept was needed.

Were there any moments that were especially challenging? What have you learned from these?

Rolling out our vision of a forest-planting society is a constant challenge. We know that the concept is not only needed, but can also be implemented. Our forests are inexpensive because we don’t buy the land, we just use it. This makes financing the planting campaigns a simple task. With this realization, it is always difficult for us to have to go through the long road of development. We try to take some of the pressure off ourselves.

© Pascal Girardot | Citizens Forests

„I wanted to give something back to the world, for an organization that really makes an impact. Now I can use my knowledge, network and experience for a good cause.”
— Pascal Girardot, EN Founder and Chairman

Where do you want to take your journey in the future and what are your next big goals?

In three years, we would like to carry out 500 planting campaigns per year. To achieve this, we need a permanent team in the association with a clear distribution of tasks. Companies and foundations should be given the opportunity to support us and become part of this vision. Thanks to the scalability and partial automation of project coordination, further development can be implemented with low staffing levels. After Germany and Austria, other countries could follow.

What do you wish you had known before you started your project/company? What advice would you give to others?

I would have liked to know more about trees. However, the vision of the association has inspired motivated people to join and contribute their botanical knowledge and expertise. We are a cool, diverse group that complements each other perfectly. My advice is: if you want to go far, you shouldn’t go alone.

What podcast do you listen to regularly? Which book is an absolute must-read for you personally?

I like listening to podcasts from Deutschlandfunk. My absolute favorite book is ‘A Brief History of Humanity’ by Yuval Noah Harari. I very much hope that the results of his research into our origins will become part of our school program at some point. It’s important to find out where we come from before we decide where we want to go!

What are your tips for doing good in everyday life? Where do you find it rather difficult to live sustainably?

Through my involvement with Citizens Forests, I have become much more aware of the ecological cost of my daily life. I think very carefully about whether I need something before every purchase. I’ve also been a vegetarian for two years. As my family lives in France, it’s unfortunately not so easy to visit them by train. So unfortunately I often have to use the car.

Which organisation or start-up impresses you and is in your opinion a true role model?

I think the work of ‘Das Geld hängt an den Bäumen – Hamburgs sozialer Saftladen’ is very inspiring. Apples are harvested that would otherwise rot on the trees and delicious juices are made from them. This has created jobs for people who would otherwise have no chance on the job market. The founding team consists of top managers who at some point no longer saw any point in their jobs. Yes… the question of meaning again.

Complete this sentence: The world needs more …

… people who have visions!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Yes, absolutely! Despite the amount of work that I, like other members of the association, do to realize our vision, I feel absolutely grateful for what I do. I am lucky to be able to drive something meaningful forward that brings people together and gives them hope. This feeling is priceless. I never expected that I would ever feel this way.

In March 2024, we are supporting Citizens Forests. Find out more on the project page: