Mr. Benioff, in a telephone interview, said he decided to take a chance anyway. Mr. Gore had bent his ear last summer about emerging research into reforestation and climate change. After discussions with scientists at the Benioff Ocean Initiative, a program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he was hooked.
“I realized this looks like a practical, actionable thing,” he said.
He discussed it with other scientists, such as Jane Goodall, the English primatologist, as well as financiers, hoping to rally governments and companies around the initiative at the World Economic Forum.
Mr. Benioff has known Mr. Kushner since before Mr. Trump took office and has worked with Ivanka Trump on issues like job training. He traveled to Washington to discuss the tree initiative with Mr. Kushner in October.
“People think something that’s actually not true, which is that they’re not interested in hearing new ideas or hearing science,” Mr. Benioff said of the Trump administration.
“Trees are the ultimate bipartisan issue,” he added. “Everyone is pro-tree.”
Mr. Gore applauded Mr. Benioff for getting the issue on President Trump’s radar. “I would not have expected him to have any success on that,” he said in an interview.
But he was skeptical. “I don’t have any trust in the Trump administration’s approach to climate because no one can be deemed as serious on the climate crisis unless they’re in favor of emission reductions,” he said.
Dr. Crowther was more optimistic. Speaking from a camper in the Moroccan desert where he half-joked he had gone to escape the attention his work has spurred, he said, “If restoration can be socially and ecologically responsible, I think it poses a really exciting opportunity for bipartisan leadership.”