International Tree of Peace (Slovak: Strom pokoja, Russian: Дерево мира, German: Der Friedensbaum) is an international and global project that originated in Slovakia in the European Union. The project, created on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I, was initiated by Slovak landscape architect Marek Sobola from Žilina. The main goal of the project is to promote a message of peace by planting at least one Tree of Peace on every continent. The project was at the very begining associated with the World War I, which also had a great impact on Sobola’s family. His great-grandfather Ondrej Sobola (Andreas Szobola) died on the Russian battlefield in an unknown place. The story of the author’s family inspired him to memorialize the soldiers who died in World War I in unknown places and were burried without their names or identities. There is probably no country in the world which does not have a war victim or an unknown soldier. In addition to the victims of wars, we are now increasingly facing various natural disasters, including epidemics, the number of victims of which can be counted to thousands maybe ten-thousands. The project is also a tribute to those people. From the very beginning, we have universally linked the project also with the memory to all unknown soldiers of global military conflicts whose remains lie in mass graves, but also in unmarked and unknown places. As the project is growing and gaining supporters, the idea of the project is also expanding. Our project is aimed at preservation of historical memory, fostering ideas of peace and friendship among the nations and spreading an ecological message by planting trees as a symbol of peace, remembrance and with a respect to nature. We want to focus more and more on sustainable development – one of the guarantees of sustainable peace.
The project has the ambition to become a universal message of joining the nations. At present, the project is not being strictly linked to the year 1918 and World War I, but more generally to the need for peace and the avoidance of global military conflicts. Its main tool is the tree, a living organism that represents growth, prosperity and nature. The project would like to point its attention to the global environmental problems and to strengthen human solidarity in order to respect nature and its resources, not to rule the nature. In this way, the project has become universal and its application is made available also in all countries all over the world. But the author does not exclude the allusion to World War I because on the 100th Anniversary of its end the project itself started. By planting trees, we want to point out to not only the senselessness of military conflicts, but also to the senseless plundering of nature in all its spheres – on land, in the oceans or air pollution. Because wars and riots bring great environmental burdens and destroy human destinies.
The project is implemented as a voluntary and community service by Servare et Manere, Slovak non-governmental and nonprofit association. The Tree of Peace is a grassroots movement and this project is a collective activity which fulfills its mission on national and international level. All members of the board perform all their activities for the Servare et Manere pro bono.