About Native Flags

Native Flags began June 29, 2008 when Cortada planted a green flag at the North Pole to reclaim the world below for nature and launch a reforestation campaign that rebuilds native ecosystems across the planet. This action was in direct response to modern nations vying for control of Arctic resources that lay below the ice. By planting the flag at this specific location, Cortada was making a literal declaration of war against climate change, as well as making a symbolic gesture of reclamation by nature, like a “reverse conquistador.”

Fusing art, scientific knowledge, and civic engagement, Native Flags seeks to involve individuals, like you, directly in restoration efforts through the planting, maintaining, and protecting of these native ecosystems in order to regrow our native tree canopy. Trees provide various ecosystem services to humans; they help mitigate urban heat island effects, provide habitat for animals, and conserve water. Most importantly, the restoration of native trees helps to offset the threat of global warming by sequestering carbon dioxide and protecting biodiversity. Thus, urban reforestation efforts have become a top priority, specifically with the planting of drought-tolerant native plant species.

Since 2009, Native Flags has engaged thousands of participants at annual tree plantings across each of Miami-Dade County’s 336 public schools, as well as Florida’s Treasure and Gulf coasts, Auburn University in Alabama, Grand Rapids, Capitol Hill, Taiwan, Latvia, and Finland.

Why should we preserve our native environments?

Environmental preservation is necessary for cities and towns to have the clean water, clean air, and rich soil that people need.  These resources are a result of a delicate system formed by native animals and plants. This system is thrown off balance with the removal or addition of new species, resulting in lower quality resources that yield health and economic problems among people. Because the pace of native reforestation is so slow, we need to think and act quickly and creatively to increase public awareness and understanding of the need to engage in reforestation.

Participating residents are asked to plant a native tree alongside the green project flag in their front yard and state:

"I hereby reclaim this land for nature." 

The project’s conspicuous green flags serve as a catalyst for conversations with neighbors, who will be encouraged to join the effort and help rebuild their native tree canopy one yard at a time.

Ideally, as they watch each tree grow, their interest in the environment will also grow.