January 3rd, 2012 by

(Credit: USFS Region 5)

Happy New Year! In the spirit of the season, I thought I would share some resolutions that you (and we) might make to help care for the environment by protecting and restoring forest ecosystems (including the one in your neighborhood). Here are four to get you started:

  • Plant some trees. Whether you plant a tree in your yard, work with a local group to plant in your neighborhood or make a donation to plant trees in a major forest restoration project, you are contributing to a healthier planet in important ways. If you would like to plant in your yard, you can find native species for your area at the Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center (they do trees as well). Depending on where you live, you can find a volunteer tree-planting group for your city from our partner, the Alliance for Community Trees. Or if you would like to donate to a major forest restoration tree-planting project, you can contribute to one of our Global ReLeaf projects.
  • Take care of your trees. Just as important as planting new trees (and in many ways more important because of the environmental benefits of mature trees) is taking care of the trees we have. If you have a question about the health of a tree on your property, ask American Forests’ Tree Doctor for some free advice. For bigger problems, you might want to consult with an arborist. Or if you would like to help take care of the trees in your community, consult the Alliance for Community Trees.
  • Educate yourself. Learning more about forests and trees is not only interesting, it helps you to be a better steward of the environment. Audubon Guides has a very helpful site to help you identify tree species (requires a free registration) and the USDA Forest Service also has several free resources. Virginia Tech has a fun site to help you learn tree identification. It will also help to learn about invasive species so you don’t plant or transport them by mistake. The Invasive Plant Atlas is a good source for this information. Finally, you might want to learn more about the diseases and pests attacking trees in your yard, neighborhood or region. This website is a good place to start.
  • Get outdoors! Forests not only provide innumerable environmental benefits, they are also beautiful and provide wonderful recreational opportunities. Bring your family, some friends or your dog and hit a trail near you! Here are some of our favorite hikes. If you want to find others that are close by, you might try Local Hikes or the American Hiking Association.

So, what resolutions do you have to make 2012 a greener year?