Lucas Scherpel, Brazil, 19
Project: Marcanã e suas Árvores
Basic Human Needs: Education, Environment
Growing up in the large city of Rio de Janeiro, Lucas noticed that the surrounding urban landscape was often ignored and mistreated. Community members viewed trees only as potential hazards, fearing they could fall on cars or buildings, and therefore, frequently encouraged cutting them down. After a year of researching urban forestry, Lucas realized how much the many benefits of urban vegetation far outweighed any potential risks. Plants not only have psychological benefits, but also many physical ones, such as reducing air pollutants and preventing urban heat islands, areas that are dangerously warmer than surrounding rural areas due to human activity. On a mission to spread awareness about the importance of urban forestry, Lucas used his skills in programming to develop a mobile app, Arvoron. Arvoron allows users to identify and learn about the importance of different trees, bringing their natural surroundings to life. In 2017, Arvoron was awarded Brazil’s Prudential Spirit of Community Award, and Lucas was soon after recognized as an “A+ Citizen” by the Brazilian magazine Veja Rio. Lucas also calls attention to the significance of urban plant life through media appearances. With the support of urban forestry organizations in Brazil, as well as the integration of machine learning into the app, Lucas plans to expand the data available on Arvoron. He hopes his technology can reshape the way people interact with the trees around them, and create environmental awareness on a global scale.