Earth Day is a month away, but why wait to get your green on? iPhorest is a neat little diversion that lets users experience what it’s like to plant and cultivate a virtual tree.

At $4.99, it’s definitely not a cheapie program (by App Store standards, anyway), but for your money, you get the satisfaction of helping the environment: For every virtual tree that gets planted, The Conservation Fund will plant a live tree in the real world.

The graphics are pretty, and the accelerometer’s put to interesting use (since you make digging motions with the phone to make a hole in the ground).

Once you get a seedling to plant, you can shake, shake, shake to invoke a storm to water it, which precedes the sun to warm it. Repeat to turn take the seedling from sapling to a mighty tree.

The share function for emailing tree pictures to friends does seem a little hokey to me. (My pals don't want to see pictures of my cat or my nephews, so why would they want to look at my fake tree?) But I like being able to ascend upward to see other iPhorest users plotted on the Earth. You can see where the app puts a dot when you first launch the program, so it’s kind of neat in a “Hey, I can see my house from here” kind of way.

Normally, I’d say $5 bucks is way too much for this type of app, but its eco-friendly mission is worth the donation. In fact, I’ve given more to similar causes and gotten nothing in return, except good conscience points, so it’s a nice gesture to provide a little game for the trouble.

The Conservation Fund, which is doing the real-life planting of native trees, is starting with the Gulf Coast in the U.S. to restore its wildlife habitats. It also pledges to work with the nation's top natural resource agencies for each iPhorest’s long-term protection, so this is no fly-by-night help organization.

Rather than ask for a free review copy of the app, I bought and downloaded it from the App Store. (I tend to do that for ones I like, to support the little guy.) In this case, I’m glad to donate for a good cause run by a future-minded group.

So I’ve got mine. Get yours here.

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