About the project

The “Trees for life” [Bäume fürs Leben] initiative aims to make a sustainable contribution to the climate through afforestation of forests in Germany. The project’s main target is to plant a total of 85,000 deciduous trees in reforestation areas so that new forests with a high level of diversity can grow. The person behind the “Trees for life” initiative is entrepreneur Paul Gauselmann. For his 85th birthday in 2019, he decided not to just talk about the important subject of the environment but to also make a contribution to climate protection himself. He donated 1,000 trees for each year of his life and thus kicked off the “Trees for life” project, which will benefit the afforestation and reforestation of forests.

“Nature has given me so much during my long life, whether that be as a counterbalance to my stressful working life or as a backdrop to numerous family gatherings. As the father of four sons, grandfather of nine grandchildren and great-grandfather of two great-grandchildren, with hopefully many more descendants, I want to do my bit towards passing on a liveable and sustainable world to future generations”, says the company founder.

With this project, we don't just want to set a marker – we also want to take the first tangible step toward more deciduous trees. And we are not alone in this! Our key partner “Trinkwasserwald e.V.” and many other supporters are helping us to put our plans into action. Follow us here on this page in our journey to more trees and an intact environment. Share in our progress, keep an eye on our planting dates and count along with us when our tree counter increases with each new planting campaign.


Project Progress

The 85,000 trees will be planted over a period of three years. You can view the current project progress here.

Projects implemented


Number of trees planted


Number of hectares planted


Additional litres of groundwater



The 85,0000 trees will be planted in various projects throughout Germany. The reports on the planting campaigns that have been implemented are available here:

Interim report on the “Trees for life” initiative of Paul Gauselmann:

One-and-a-half years later, more than half of the donated trees have been planted.


Entrepreneur Paul Gauselmann donates 85,000 trees to combat climate change

A total of 8,000 trees were planted on an area in Taufkirchen in the Munich region.


Afforestation at Schloss Benkhausen

At Schloss Benkhausen, the training center of the Gauselmann Group, 200 young trees were planted last week in the adjacent, company-owned forest area.


Paul Gauselmann donates 7,000 trees for the ‘Aaper Wald’ municipal forest in Düsseldorf

Through the "Trees for Life" initiative, 7,000 trees and shrubs have now been planted in an area of the Aaper Forest to revitalize the tree population.


Fruit tree tradition is being continued at Schloss Benkhausen

In the history of Benkhausen Castle, fruit tree orchards were operated as early as the beginning of the 19th century. To continue this tradition, Paul Gauselmann's granddaughter, Sonja Gauselmann, planted fruit trees at Benkhausen Castle.


Germany-wide campaign will see 3,000 trees planted in the Stuttgart region

As the Gauselmann Group itself operates a number of subsidiaries in Baden-Württemberg, it is now also actively supporting the reforestation of forests in the Stuttgart area: 3,000 trees will be planted on an area near Rutesheim by the end of 2020.


Afforestation in the Wiehengebirge

On an area of 3.6 hectares, 10,000 beech and service trees will be planted in Nettelstedt by the end of the year. The reforestation in Nettelstedt already started at the beginning of the year, where 2,000 young trees have already been planted in the ground. In the coming planting period, the reforestation of a further 8,000 young trees will be carried out.


Entrepreneur Paul Gauselmann donates 8,000 trees for the Dölauer Heide forest area

The Dölauer Heide forest area in Halle (Saale) is now benefiting from this commitment.


8,000 red oaks will be planted in Magdeburg by the end of the year

On a planting area in Randau, 8,000 red oaks will be planted by the end of this year. On October 15, the first trees were symbolically planted at the start of the campaign in Magdeburg on the two-hectare site in Randau.


Initiative of Paul Gauselmann supports Bielefeld municipal forest with 8,000 trees.

Bielefeld's municipal forest is now also benefiting from the "Trees for Life" initiative. In order to strengthen the forest, which was damaged by the heatwave summer and heavy storms, Paul Gauselmann contributed 20,000 euros to the "A Piece of Bielefeld Forest" fundraising campaign.


Paul Gauselmann’s “Trees for life” campaign has been launched in Nettelstedt

On the occasion of his 85th birthday last year, Paul Gauselmann donated 85,000 trees to set an example in the fight against climate change and thus initiated the "Trees for Life" project. A 3.6-hectare planting area in Nettelstedt was chosen to kick off the Germany-wide reforestation campaign. Planting of this area has now begun at the end of March.


Paul Gauselmann donates 85,000 trees to combat climate change

Setting an example for a better environment. This is what entrepreneur Paul Gauselmann is doing with a spontaneous idea on the occasion of his 85th birthday on 26th of August. His reasoning: "In order to make an effective contribution against climate change, I would like to donate 1,000 trees for every year of my life so far." The trees are to be planted throughout Germany.


About Paul Gauselmann

Paul Gauselmann, who was born in Borghorst in Westphalia, is the founder of the family-owned company that bears his name. What today is the Gauselmann Group with its MERKUR umbrella brand and laughing Merkur sun logo grew from what was formerly a one-man business established in 1957. It is now an internationally operating corporate group with over 14,000 employees. In addition, Paul Gauselmann steered the fortunes of the entire vending machine industry in the VDAI (German Amusement and Vending Machine Industry Association) for 38 years, including 28 of these as Chairman of the Board.

Paul Gauselmann’s success story is meteoric. As a youngster, at the age of two, he was separated from his brothers and father. He experienced the horrors of the Second World War in Münster, finished school with the best results in his year and completed an apprenticeship as a telecommunications inspector. His fascination with American jukeboxes and the realisation that you could use them to earn money in the post-war period were what sparked his first business idea. More than 60 years ago, on 25 May 1957, he began installing jukeboxes as a sideline. The step to full entrepreneurial independence followed in 1964. The first gaming machine developed and produced by Paul Gauselmann himself was the “Merkur B”, which was brought to market over 40 years ago in 1977. In the meantime, having registered more than 300 patents, he has produced over two million gaming machines. Many development teams worldwide – from Australia to America – follow his visions. The invention of the modern arcade in the form of “Casino-Merkur-Spielothek” and the licence to supply gaming machines to casinos in Nevada were important milestones in his success story. To ensure a long-term, stable future for the corporate group, the patriarch transferred the Gauselmann Group to a family foundation in 2016. Paul Gauselmann’s is outstanding due to his perfectionism, risk appetite, ambition, innovative mind, social commitment and the responsibility that he shows to his employees and to his family with four sons and nine grandchildren. He is the maker, while his wife Karin is the soul of the family and an advisor in the corporate group. An exemplary entrepreneurial career. A man who lives his passion.


About Trinkwasserwald e.V.

Trinkwasserwald® e.V., a non-profit association for the protection of nature and the environment that was established in 1995, promotes the conservation, improvement and production of increased quantities of groundwater and drinking water. We promote location-appropriate silviculture so as to secure drinking water as a source of life for the long term. To achieve this, we plant heat-tolerant deciduous trees among selected coniferous monocultures in a targeted way throughout Germany. This increases the groundwater yield by 800,000 litres per hectare and per year, improves the climate and the condition of the forest and promotes biodiversity. A mixed forest with a location-appropriate mix of tree species also reduces the risk of climate extremes and ensures a more stable forest ecosystem.

To date, thanks to Trinkwasserwald® e.V. and the activities of association members, approximately 2,650 hectares of coniferous monocultures have been converted into “drinking water forests”, thus generating around 2.1 billion litres of additional groundwater. This quantity secures the drinking water requirements of over 2.1 million people (at a daily consumption of almost three litres of drinking water per person per day) – lifelong and across generations. Several tens of thousands of children and adults – in cooperation with the business sector, associations and politicians – took part in the necessary planting campaigns and were thus able to become actively involved in climate protection directly at a local level. In parallel with this, the association is active in impressing the value of nature on people through environmental education. Further information is available at www.trinkwasserwald.de

Further partners


Mario Hoffmeister

contact person press


+49 5772 49-281

Nils Rullkötter

contact person project management


+49 5772 49-266