We Need Trees

Arbor Day More Vital Now than Ever




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The 147th annual Arbor Day on April 27 encourages tree planting worldwide to replenish lost tree cover including trees wiped out in the recent fires in California and hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. The Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) is committed to providing 5 million trees in these areas alone. More than 3,400 U.S. communities will participate as an ADF Tree City. Visit Tinyurl.com/USATreeCityDirectory for a current list and criteria for new communities to apply.

The ADF Alliance for Community Trees supports tree-growing programs for 200 nonprofit member groups nationwide via funding, information sharing and forging helpful connections. Trees are much more than aesthetics, says Program Manager Dana Karcher, who most recently welcomed Community Greening, in Delray Beach, Florida, and Outdoor Circle, in Hawaii, into the fold. “Trees clean the air, are a habitat for animals, retain storm water and more.” An affiliated nonprofit program online at NeighborWoodsMonth.org encourages tree planting each October.

Billings, Montana, earned the latest Arbor Day Celebration Award after 12 elementary schools there engaged in environmental education stations and 180 volunteers planted and pruned trees. Other recent biannual award winners included California’s ReLeaf program and the Atlanta Beltline Arboretum.

The need was great even before the world’s forests lost 73.4 million acres of tree cover in 2016, a 51 percent increase over 2015, due to poor forest management, climate change-driven drought and fires, says Global Forest Watch.

Hopeful global signs: The largest-ever tropical reforestation project in the Brazilian Amazon aims to plant 73 million trees in the next six years on 70,000 acres. A New Zealand participation goal for the Billion Trees Planting Programme targets planting 100 million trees annually for a decade. In July 2017, volunteers in Madhya Pradesh, India, planted 66,750,000 tree saplings in 12 hours, exceeding the previous record by Uttar Pradesh of 50 million in 24 hours, as part of India’s reforestation pledge of 2 billion new trees by 2030.

A $10 annual ADF membership fee includes 10, six-inch-tall seedlings to plant or to donate to a national forest. Karcher’s paramount planting tip: “Dig the hole twice as wide and the same depth of the root ball. If it’s too deep, it’ll suffocate. Give roots space to grow.”


This article appears in the April 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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