Leonardo DiCaprio Has Tree Species Named for Him in Thanks for Activism

Leonardo DiCaprio in a closeup shot in Don't Look Up

Actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio had a tree species named after him. DiCaprio has long been an outspoken environmentalist who has dedicated his voice and platform to wildlands and ocean conversation, as well as the issue of climate change. DiCaprio says he is committed to protecting the planet with his efforts and prominent platform, and supports long-term sustainable solutions that will protect the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems.

For decades, the Hollywood star has been a staunch supporter of environmental issues. His own foundation, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, dates back to 1998 and pursues a variety of eco-friendly projects, from grant-making and public campaigning, to media initiatives. Dedicated to “the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants,” DiCaprio’s organization aims to implement solutions that rejuvenate threatened populations and provide long-term health. DiCaprio himself utilizes his Instagram presence for the cause as well, regularly speaking to his 51.7 million followers on the topics of climate change, the effects of deforestation and poaching, and indigenous activists’ fight to protect the Amazon. Followers only get a rare glimpse of DiCaprio’s Hollywood projects when it aligns with the values of his page. His newest movie, Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up, is only mentioned by DiCaprio in regards to how it directly explore the current climate crisis.

According to SlashFlim, scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew, London have officially named a tree species after the actor in honor of his activism, calling it “Uvariopsis dicaprio.” The critically endangered tree, found in Africa’s Cameroon forest, is a member of the ylang-ylang family of small tropical evergreen trees. Dr. Martin Cheek, a scientist at Kew Gardens, told the BBC that the team believed the actor was “crucial in helping to stop the logging of the Ebo forest.” Previously, there were plans for areas of the Ebo Forest to be open for logging, which caused international experts to write to the government listing out all the plants and animals that would be in harm of extinction. The issue was highlighted on DiCaprio’s social media, providing heightened attention to the cause.

Kate, Randall, and Yule walking through a grocery story in Don't Look Up

Don’t Look Up is a prime example of the actor’s commitment to his environmental values, telling the story of alarmed scientists trying to warn the world of an impending fatal comet. The movie serves as a metaphor to the current climate crisis the world is facing, honing in on the fact that experts are often ignored, while the pursuit of capitalistic gains are favored over the planet’s state. While Don’t Look Up is meant to be satirical, it’s not difficult for viewers to feel alarmed or upset after connecting the metaphorical dots. It’s that sinking feeling that producers like DiCaprio are hoping to enact change within the greater public.

DiCaprio’s work, while noble, will not be enough to end the climate crisis; that is something that will take a collective global effort. However, the “mirror” that Don’t Look Up held up to the global reaction to climate change may at least help to spur on conversation. McKay’s satire provided a humorous yet sobering lens with which to view the issue, and may be a wake-up call that gets many people to do their part, however little that may be. At the very least, it may encourage viewers to pay attention to their lawmakers and demand better, safer environmental practices. But while each project can do it’s own small part in combating climate change, activists like Leonardo DiCaprio will continue their efforts far beyond any individual film. Given that, it’s only fitting that the star was honored with his own piece of the world, representing his long-time commitment to a vital cause.


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