Plant trees while you shop

by American Forests

Each year American Forests is pleased to present a selection of some of our amazing partners who give a little bit back each time you shop. So if you’re tired of getting the same-old same-old, why not check out some of the options below? And don’t forget, you can always give the Gift of Trees!

This global provider of Holiday ecards for business has supported American Forests by offsetting more than 65,000 tons of CO2 emissions! For every ecard ordered, the company plants 10 trees with us. So if you, your friends and family, and/or your company is sending ecards this holiday season, why not try out eCO2 Greetings Ecards and help protect our forests.

Since 1995, Eddie Bauer has offered customers the ability to add $1 to their checkout total to plant trees with American Forests. Along with Eddie Bauer’s own generous contributions, more than 6 million trees have been planted to date by people just like you! Make sure you select the “add a dollar to plant a tree” option at the checkout to help us plant millions more.

This socially conscious and environmentally focused shoe company is planting 50,000 trees through American Forests’ Global ReLeaf. Check out their retractable spiked boots and hyper grip shoes that will help make winter bearable while also looking chic on your feet.

All-natural skincare products that help plant trees might sound too good to be true, but Origins’ Plant-A-Tree initiative has helped plant more than 500,000 trees worldwide! Origins products are manufactured using a combination of renewable resources, wind energy and earth-friendly practices – the perfect gift for a green conscious recipient!

A cornucopia of useful items, gifts that wow and nature-inspired products. UncommonGoods not only offers gifts that are unique and uber cool, but through their Better to Give program, the company will also donate $1 to the charity of your choice – we hope you’ll pick us!

Originating in Florence, Italy, these eco-chic fashion watches were introduced to the United States in 2010. Made from repurposed wood, they can be found in both men’s and women’s styles. Each watch sold plants a tree with American Forests.

Fracking at George Washington National Forest

by Rebecca Turner

On Nov. 18, the U.S. Forest Service released the much-anticipated management plan for the George Washington National Forest. At the heart of that anticipation was whether the Forest Service would uphold a proposed ban of hydraulic fracturing in the forest — it would have been the first national forest to have such a ban. Instead, the Forest Service compromised, allowing hydraulic fracturing — known more familiarly as fracking — where leases already existed prior to the plan.

About one percent of the total 1.1 million acres in George Washington National Forest will be drilled using the hydarulic fracturing, or fracking, method. Photo credit: Aneta Kaluzna

About one percent of the total 1.1 million acres in George Washington National Forest will be drilled using the hydarulic fracturing, or fracking, method. Photo credit: Aneta Kaluzna

The Forest Service’s decision to allow fracking is counter to their mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. While American Forests agrees with the multi-use mandate for our national forests, not all activities are good for our nation’s forests. Energy and mineral exploration does not sustain the health, diversity or the productivity of our forests. It threatens them.

George Washington National Forest contains more than 40 species of trees and 2,000 species of shrubs and herbaceous plants. The forest has 2,340 miles of perennial streams and 200 species of birds and 60 species of mammals. Overall, 53 federally-listed threatened or endangered animal and plant species call this forest home. As the largest and most popular national forest in the eastern U.S., it is a prominent recreational spot, with sites such as the Appalachian Trail, Mount Roger National Recreation Area, and Virginia Creeper Trail.

Every 10 to 15 years, national forests must update their management plans, and the George Washington management plan was up for its renewal in 2014. The Forest Land and Resource Management Plan for the George Washington National Forest was last revised in 1993, and the last draft was in 2011. That draft stated plans to ban fracking in the 1.1 million-acre forest — a ban that would have been a first for any national forest. American Forests has consistently advocated in support of this ban because of the potential risks to the watershed, quality of drinking water, and wildlife.

The new federal management plan reverses the 2011 draft’s intent of a total ban on fracking. Instead, it restricts drilling to 10,000 acres already leased for oil and gas drilling, about one percent of the total national forest.

Quite simply, fracking damages delicate forest ecosystems. The process of hydraulic fracturing releases shale gas and oil by injecting water and unknown chemicals into the earth, and has been known to cause significant groundwater contamination as well as dangerous levels of methane emissions, a hazardous greenhouse gas. According to researchers, fracking has also been linked to earthquakes, indicating that this practice has a significant effect on the geology of the planet.

Another concern with fracking in the George Washington National Forest involves the James and Potomac rivers. These rivers feed the Chesapeake Bay, which is the focus of a multibillion-dollar restoration project directed by the Environmental Protection Agency. If these rivers are polluted as a result of fracking, they could interfere with the progress on this restoration project, as well as affect the drinking water for as many as five million people.

On the plus side, the plan nearly doubles riparian protections and strongly recommends that Congress designate a 90,000-acre scenic area on Shenandoah Mountain and 27,000 additional acres of new wilderness. Unfortunately, this is not enough. The continued leasing for oil and gas is counterintuitive to the popular use of the largest eastern national forest — which sees about one million hikers, campers, hunter, anglers and wildlife watchers annually — and contrary to the mission of the Forest Service to ensure healthy and resilient forests.

American Forests to participate in #GivingTuesday

by American Forests

#GivingTuesday logo.Tired of the crowds and hassle of post-Thanksgiving shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Try something different this year and add #GivingTuesday — Dec. 2 — to your post-Thanksgiving plans.

The mission of #GivingTuesday is to inspire a national day of giving at the start of the holiday season. #GivingTuesday celebrates and encourages charitable support of nonprofit organizations across the country. American Forests is proud to once again partner with this incredible one-day event. Please support us on Dec. 2 by donating now to help restore forests, create wildllife habitat and improve the health of the planet.

Share your #GivingTuesday support on Facebook or Twitter and get your friends involved too!

We thank you for your continued support of American Forests!

Forest Digest — Week of November 17

by American Forests

There’s an international flavor kicking off this week’s Forest Digest. Get all your forest news this week, as there will be no Forest Digest next week when American Forests and our staff celebrate Thanksgiving.

  • “Pew, Pew, Pew! NASA Space Lasers to Map Earth’s Forests in 3D”
    A new laser instrument developed for the International Space Station is expected to generate 3D maps of Earth’s forests. The instrument, called Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI), uses lidar, a special kind of laser technology, to create detailed 3D maps and measure the biomass of forests. The maps will allow scientists to estimate the total amount of carbon stored inside the planet’s trees. One of the most poorly quantified components of the carbon cycle is the net balance between forest disturbance and regrowth, and these advances will help monitor forest degradation, adding to the critical data needed to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • “Fracking to be permitted in GW National Forest”ABC News
    Environmentalists and energy boosters compromised a deal that would allow fracking in the largest national forest in the eastern United States, but would make most of its wood off-limits to drilling. The federal management plan reverses an outright ban on hydraulic fracturing in the 1.1 million-acre forest that the U.S. Forest Service had proposed in 2011. A total ban would have been a first for America’s national forests, which are commonly leased for mining, timber and drilling. However, some environmentalists were pleased that at least some balance was struck between energy development and conservation.
  • “Study: 11 million acres of dry NW forests need restoration”KTVZ – Central Oregon News
    More than 11 million acres of dry forest in Oregon and Washington are in need of restoration, according to a new study by scientists for The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service. The study, published in Forest Ecology and Management, is a comprehensive, data-driven analysis of where, how much and what kind of activities are needed across the fire-adapted forest landscape to restore ecological processes.
  • “Quaking aspen trees dance with life”Mother Nature Network
    Why are the aspen trees so unique? Well, perhaps because it has several species, with only two that can be found in North America. Or the fact that the aspen is a tree of many names, like the trembling aspen, white poplar, or even “popple.” The National Park Service even says that “it may be better not to think of aspens as trees at all”, as they grow from a large underground network of roots and spout up via asexual reproduction. They are uniformly yellow because each tree is identical, part of the same organism and sprouting from the same system of roots. This solidarity lends itself to a long life, allowing us to admire its beauty for quite some time.

What do the 2014 midterm elections mean for forests?

by American Forests

By Anne Regan, Policy Intern

The 2014 midterm elections were known for a lot of things, among them:

  • the worst voter turnout in 72 years, with just 36.3 percent of eligible voters participating, according to the New York Times;
  • the Democrats facing a record-low of only 36 percent of Americans saying they have a favorable opinion of the party;
  • and Tom Brokaw answering his phone on live television.

However, there is concern with the 114th Congress’ impact on the U.S. energy and environment agenda. The Obama administration has moved ahead with its Climate Action Plan, a strategy to use regulations to address global warming without action from Congress. The White House climate deal with China shows that he is still clearly in the game. But with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, and losing key urban forestry supporters like Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), what does this say about current and future environmental legislation — specifically ones that American Forests supports?

In terms of EPA carbon regulations, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), newly re-elected and on the verge of becoming Senate Majority Leader, has repeatedly said he would use riders to challenge the EPA, using this high-pressure tactic to challenge Obama through must-pass spending bills that only require a simple majority to pass.

In addition, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a climate change skeptic, is likely to lead the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and use this position to try to weaken and scrutinize the EPA and its climate change and environmental protection agenda.

As daunting as this may seem, we realize that congressional committees and subcommittees play a major role in dictating environmental legislation that could overcome these opposing players with different environmental agendas. American Forests will continue to work with these newly elected Congressional members and others on the Hill to create a more diverse group of urban and wildland forest supporters.

For instance, Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-Utah) victory over Democratic businesswoman Donna McAleer likely guarantees he’ll succeed retiring Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, therefore acquiring greater access to push sweeping legislation that affects energy development, wildlands, recreation, conservation and rural counties. Rep. Bishop is known amongst green groups as a good listener, paying attention to their ideas for designating new protected wilderness areas and extending key conservation programs.

American Forests sees the results from this election as an opportunity to work with members such as Rep. Bishop in discussing the issues relating to forest conservation and preservation to make sure these concerns are heard. We look forward to building new relationships with a more diverse group of urban and wildland forest champions — no matter which political party may control the House and Senate.

Forest Digest — Week of November 10

by American Forests

There’s an international flavor kicking off this week’s Forest Digest. Check it out!

  • “US and China reach historic climate change deal, vow to cut emissions”CNN
    U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced both countries will curb their greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades. Under this agreement, the U.S. would cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26-28 percent before the year 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and will also aim to get 20 percent of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by the same year. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions said the joint announcement is “an extremely hopeful sign” and will help get other countries on board.
  • “Obama, Putin plant trees at APEC summit”The Washington Post
    Heads of state from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies, including the U.S., Russia and China, attended a tree planting ceremony on Tuesday in Beijing. The symbolic presentation demonstrates each countries’ willingness to take the next step to work together on global environmental issues.
  • “Peru’s forests store more CO2 than US emits in a year, research shows “The Guardian
    New research shows Peru, the most accurately carbon-mapped country in the world, stores nearly seven billion metric tons of carbon stocks, which is more than U.S. carbon emissions in 2013, calculated at 5.38 billion tons. Most of Peru’s carbon storage occurs in its Amazon rainforest, the second-largest area of Amazon rainforest after Brazil.
  • “Protecting native forests more valuable than logging”
    New research has found mountain ash forests provide more value to the community and the global climate when protected and not logged. Known as ecosystem services, the results from research scientists at the Australian National University, show that protecting forests by ending logging could double the amount of carbon stored in trees. Scientific evidence also shows that natural disasters such as bushfires do not have as great an impact on carbon storage as harvesting the forest. These results are being presented at the World Parks Congress in Sydney this week.
  • “Tree diseases can help forests: What’s bad for a seedling can be good for biodiversity”
    University of Utah biologists found that pathogens that kill tree seedlings actually can make forests more diverse. Because seedlings of disease-sensitive tree species cannot survive in the wetter forests and drought-sensitive tree species cannot survive in the drier forests, different tree species inhabit the wetter and drier forests even though they are only 30 miles apart. In other words, tree pathogens contribute to the staggering diversity of trees in tropical forests.
  • “Seeing the forest for the trees: H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest”The Daily Barometer
    Deep within the Willamette National Forest, researchers are changing the way forest ecology is understood and how forests are managed. The H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest is one of 80 experimental forests in the U.S., but one of only six Long-Term Ecology Research (LTER) sites in the nation. LTER sites are funded by the National Science Foundation. Sherri Johnson, a courtesy assistant research professor at Oregon State University and an ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service, states that the forest is special because you do not have to worry about logging and the effects of human activity.

Strengthening enforcement to protect our forests

by Loose Leaf Contributor

By Faith Campbell, Emeritus environmental advocate and tree-pest expert

As my earlier blogs have demonstrated, highly damaging, tree-killing insects are introduced to North America in crates, pallets and other forms of wood packaging material (WPM).

Diseased and dead ash trees — victims of the emerald ash borer — can wreak havoc on communities. Photo credit: Major Hefje, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Diseased and dead ash trees — victims of the emerald ash borer — can wreak havoc on communities. Photo credit: Major Hefje, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Since it was first detected in 1996, U.S. and Canadian authorities have spent more than $500 million trying to eliminate the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). These efforts have eradicated ALB from Chicago, portions of the New York City metropolitan area, and Toronto. However, authorities are still dealing with large outbreaks in Massachusetts and Ohio; with an expanded outbreak on Long Island; and with a new introduction near Toronto.

The emerald ash borer has escaped containment efforts and spread to more than 170,000 square miles in 23 states and two Canadian provinces. More than 200 million trees have been killed. Managing dead ash trees is costing cities and homeowners billions of dollars1. Unique plant communities — especially the black ash-dominated wetlands of the upper Midwest and southern Canada, and the pumpkin ash-dominated wetlands of the Atlantic coast — are at risk of severe disruption.

The redbay ambrosia beetle and its associated fungus that causes laurel wilt disease have also spread beyond control. The U.S. Forest Service expects that redbay trees will have lost 90 percent of their basal area by 2030 — just 25 years after detection of the disease.

The palamedes swallowtail butterfly feeds on many plants and trees, including ash and redbay. Photo credit: J F Butler, University Florida.

The palamedes swallowtail butterfly feeds on many plants and trees, including ash and redbay. Photo credit: J F Butler, University Florida.

Both ash and redbay are vitally important food sources for numerous insect species, including the palamedes swallowtail butterfly (Papilio palamedes).

We know that tree-killing pests, including the ALB, continue to be found in WPM entering the country despite adoption of international standards.

In the third blog of the series I said we need to do more and suggested steps importing businesses can take to minimize the likelihood that insect larvae will be hiding in their packaging.

Government authorities also need to do more – they should enforce regulations more aggressively. Currently, only one in 100 shipments detected to be in violation is actually subjected to a financial penalty. I doubt that this rate is sufficient to motivate importers to ensure that their shipments are clean. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) needs to work with the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to increase the likelihood that shipments that violate the regulations are penalized.

This concludes my posts on wood packaging material and its role in transporting invasive insects and diseases. Please stay tuned to Loose Leaf for my next series: Tree pests and plant imports.

1Aukema, J.E., B. Leung, K. Kovacs, C. Chivers, K. O. Britton, J. Englin, S.J. Frankel, R. G. Haight, T. P. Holmes, A. Liebhold, D.G. McCullough, B. Von Holle.. 2011. Economic Impacts of Non-Native Forest Insects in the Continental United States PLoS One September 2011 (Volume 6 Issue 9); and Kovacs, K., R. Mercader, R. Haight, N. Siegert, D. McCullough, and A. M. Liebhold. 2011. The influence of satellite populations of emerald ash borer on projected economic costs in U.S. communities, 2010-2020. Journal of Environmental Management 92: 2170-2181.

Views of Loose Leaf’s guest bloggers are their own and not necessarily the position of American Forests.

Forest Digest — Week of November 3

by American Forests

Check out this week’s Forest Digest:

  • “What puts forests more at risk — climate change or attempts to counter it?”
    The U.N. report on climate change urges investors to drop fossil fuel stocks in favor of renewables while also giving advice to policy makers including the restoration of forests, which play the vital role of absorbing carbon and limiting greenhouse gases. Nancy Baker, who has a graduate degree in forestry, is taking steps to heal what she sees as a sickness in her woods and prepare them for a warmer climate. She pulls out and poisons invasive species and tries to treat her sick trees — an expensive and time consuming process. This is known as assisted migration. Is this a risky remedy?
White Mountains National Forest

White Mountains National Forest. Credit: weesam2010/Flickr

  • “Free entry this weekend to White Mountain National Forest”WMUR-Manchester
    It’s free to enter the 880,000-acre White Mountain National Forest this weekend, in honor of Veterans Day. The day use fees are waived from Saturday through Tuesday. “This is our way of saying thanks to the brave men and women — past and present — who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe at home,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “We encourage veterans, their families and all visitors to take time out over the holiday weekend to enjoy the benefits that nature provides at forests and grasslands throughout the country.”
  • “Weekly ‘mood walks’ are an antidote to anxiety and depression”
    The York Region and South Simcoe branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) organize weekly mood walks, which harness nature’s healing powers to help those with mental illness. Growing evidence of how green space benefits mental health inspired the CMHA’s Ontario chapter to launch Mood Walks in partnership with Hike Ontario and Conservation Ontario, funded by a $150,000 provincial grant.
  • “One tree can feed a family of four in Jamaica for life”Alberni Valley Times
    Edwin Knight has been involved in the TREESTHATFEED project on behalf of the Rotary Clubs of Port Alberni and the Rotary Club of Port Alberni-Arrowsmith. The Ministry of Education is spearheading a tree-planting initiative in schools that is aimed at providing nutritional and economic benefits to students and institutions. This project is a good example of sustainable development in that planting trees has environmental benefits and the benefit of increasing food supply for the Jamaican population while promoting national food security.

The ghost trees

by Susan Laszewski

Ghosts! They seem to be everywhere this time of year. Not just in the haunted houses and twilit graveyards you would expect, but in the stores, the neighbor’s yard and even at the door asking for candy!

Well, ghosts can be found in forests too. Deep in the coldest, highest elevations of the northern Rocky Mountains, where the merciless alpine winds cause trees to grow twisted and gnarled in what are called “krummholz forests,” live the ghost trees — “skeletons” of whitebark pine. Sometimes, an entire stand of ghost trees sits eerily on the mountainside.

Ghost trees — “skeletons” of whitebark pine

Ghost trees — “skeletons” of whitebark pine. Credit: Francis/Flickr

And unlike the tots that might show up at your door in a white sheet this evening, with these ghosts, there may actually be something to fear.

That’s because what happened to these trees is a spooky prospect for these forests. The whitebark pine forests have been haunted in recent decades by a number of ominous forces. One is the mountain pine beetle. This pest is a native insect, but in recent years, its population has grown out of control. Warmer winters have allowed these beetles to live longer and climb into upper elevations and many trees have been lost. In fact, more than 41.7 million acres in more than 10 states are already dead and dying from this disease. Can you feel the chill running down your spine yet?

Another threat haunting these trees is white pine blister rust, an invasive disease. If you see a tree with green branches below and all the needles on the top red, it may be a sign of the disease. This “topkill” occurs as the blister rust attacks the tree one section at a time. Eventually, the whole tree will turn red and die.

But, there are many strategies to combat these frights and you don’t have to wear garlic around your neck or throw salt over your shoulder. American Forests is working with our partners on a strategy to save the whitebark pine. Our methods include protecting healthy whitebarks with pheromone patches to trick mountain pine beetles into avoiding the tree; collecting cones of blister rust-resistant trees to nurture into a more resilient future generation of whitebark pine; and conducting research to identify where to plant seedlings to give them the best chance of survival.

Ghost forest of whitebark pine “skeletons.”

Credit: Dr. Cathy L. Cripps

You can help by donating to the cause.

Read more about the ghost forests of the Greater Yellowstone Area in Dr. Cathy L. Cripps’ article, Underground Connection: Fungi and Pines in Peril.

Forest Digest — Week of October 27

by American Forests

We have hefty Halloween version of Forest Digest this week. Enjoy!

  • “These Miniature Super-Forests Can Green Cities With Just A Tiny Amount Of Space”
    We covered this a few weeks, but here’s an in-depth look into the process! A startup in India has figured out how to soak up pollution and reduce floods for trees in cities. The founder, a young industrial engineer, Shubhendu Sharma, uses an intensive process of building nutrients three feet deep in the soil and carefully plotting out a mix of trees, so thick it’s impossible to walk inside. He uses the concept of a multi-layer forests, ensuring that no two tress, once they grow big, fight for the same space. This team, known as Afforestt, uses an algorithm that is able to achieve an efficiency of a 92% survival rate over the past three years.
  • “Agreement protects forests near San Pedro River”The Arizona Republic
    More than 600 acres of private land in one of the Southwest’s most biologically diverse areas will be protected for migratory birds and other wildlife through new agreements with state and federal agencies. The Forest Legacy Programs funded the approval of conservation easements stating that four properties along the lower San Pedro River in southern Arizona will remain undeveloped. The newly protected land is important for the yellow-billed cuckoo that was listed as a threatened species earlier this month as well as the bighorn sheep, javelinas, and bears.
  • “Tree Stories: Galveston’s most famous tree”The Galveston Daily News
    The Borden Oak survived The Great Storm of 1900 and the subsequent grade raising, plus all the hurricanes and droughts since that time. It is the only tree in town that has its own historical marker is protected by the Galveston Historical Foundation. It is featured in the book, “Famous Trees of Texas” (A&M, 1970). It reportedly survives due to the foresight of Thomas Borden, brother of Galveston’s Gail Borden of condensed milk fame.
  • “MIT shows how a tree can be a documentary”WBUR — Boston
    A ListenTree was created by Media Arts and Science graduate students Edwina Portocarrero and Gershon Dublon. It conducts sound vibration from a hidden, remote device. Passersby must press their ears to any part of the trunk or branches to hear the broadcast by way of bone conduction. The students chose trees due to their mythical status and enviro-friendly ubiquity. These trees ran on solar power and a silicone rubber-encased transducer screwed into the tree roots. This will be on exhibit in the entrance of MIT Museum through December 31st as well as presented in Mexico City for Day of the Dead Festivities and in Montreal for the all-documentary RIDM Film Festival.
  • “Lifted on giant inner tubes, an old tree moves in Michigan”NPR
    For almost 250 years, a 44-foot diameter bur oak has been growing on what is now the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor but is in the way of an expansion of the Ross Business School. This move will cost about $400,000, money that came from $100 million donated for the expansion by philanthropist Stephen Ross. There is controversy as to whether the costs for this one tree were worth it.
  • “City of Minneapolis removing all ash trees”KARE – Minneapolis-St. Paul
    The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is taking action to prevent the emerald ash borer from destroying its parks and boulevards. This is a part of the Minneapolis Ash Canopy Replacement Plan, which is an eight-year project that will cost more than a million dollars a year and is funded by a levy. This is done to prevent a sudden, large-scale loss of trees. It will remove a total of 40,000 ash trees, and every one of those trees will be replaced.
  • “Long Island Confronts Destructive Southern Pine Beetles “The New York Times
    Recent warmer winters have created favorable conditions for an unwelcome pest: the southern pine beetle. Though the beetles — and the destruction they cause — were found in New Jersey a decade ago, they have now found their way to Long Island, where communities have begun mounting a defense.