- Forests in spotlight at Paris climate talks — Nature. com
With the climate talks taking place in Paris this week and next, forests are a particularly hot topic, both in terms of their importance to fighting climate change as well as the growing difficulty of protecting and expanding forests.
- Forests Can Only Fight Climate Change if We Become Better Stewards — The Tyee
Because of forests’ important role in combatting climate change, this article provides a Canadian perspective on the essential role humans play in helping to better protect the forests of the world.
- Growing forests, growing minds — Wisconsin Dells Events
A program in Wisconsin, known as the LEAF program, provides “school forests” to help children learn about the environment and conservation.
- Biodiversity enhances carbon storage of tropical forests — Phys.org
Recent research reveals that the level of biodiversity in tropical forests, which harbor 96 percent of tree species, plays a critical role in tropical forests’ ability to store larger amounts of carbon — as they currently store 25 percent of global carbon.
By Austa Somvichian-Clausen, Marketing and Communications Intern
Here are some quick and easy tips to make sure you pick the best tree and keep it fresh all holiday season long!
- Trust your source
When picking the perfect Christmas tree, make sure you go somewhere that you trust that provides top-quality trees. This year, American Forests is partnering with Whole Foods Market®, which sells only premium-quality trees, and, in addition, for each tree sold, they plant an evergreen tree with American Forests in a wildland forest in the U.S.
- Keep your eyes open
Before choosing your tree, check the ground around the base of the trees to make sure there aren’t too many pine needles collected on the ground as this is the sign of a less-than-fresh Christmas tree.
- Feel it out
Look for trees with sturdy branches for hanging your ornaments. Another way to check the freshness of a tree is to run your hand along the branches of a tree — if no needles fall off, then you’ve got a good one.
- Do you have a type?
If you have kids (or rowdy pets!) and want to avoid trees with spiny needles, look for a flexible-needled white pine. If you have allergies, a Leyland cypress should do.
- Before you decorate
Once you choose your perfect tree, keeping it watered is important! Just as you would keep the water in your flower vases fresh and filled, do the same for your Christmas tree. A freshly-cut tree can consume an entire gallon of water in just 24 hours!
Lastly, you should feel good about your Christmas tree purchase! Learn more about our partnership with Whole Foods Market, here.
You can also donate directly to American Forests to help plant even more trees! Trees also make the perfect gift for that someone special in your life who cares about protecting our environment. Give your loved ones the Gift of Trees this holiday season!
Lush tropical forests, brightly colored birds and pristine beaches: here in our D.C.-based office, these are all images that certainly evoke envy on a cold, misty December day. They also represent the next site of our 25-year Global ReLeaf journey: Hawaii, the incredibly biodiverse archipelago that comprises our 50th state.
But, with how naturally beautiful Hawaii is, why is there a need to plant more trees?
By essentially being formed as an incredibly isolated entity — an archipelago surrounded by ocean, and created by volcanic hot spots — Hawaii became one of the most uniquely biodiverse regions on the planet, with thousands of unique plant and animal species calling the islands home. In addition, the majority of these species — up to 90 percent — are only found in Hawaii.
Unfortunately, rampant land clearing, agriculture, urbanization and invasive threats have cleared up to 2/3 of the original dry and wet forests and have given Hawaii another nickname — the “extinction capital of the world.” In fact, nearly 75 percent of all extinctions in the country have occurred in Hawaii, and the islands are still in trouble. While the islands comprise a mere 0.2 percent of the land mass within the entire U.S., they contain more than 30 percent of the nation’s federally listed endangered species due to habitat loss and competition from invasive insects, weeds, diseases, farm animals and more. Colorful and exotic characters, including the Hawaiian crow, the Hawaiian monk seal, crested honeycreepers and O’ahu tree snails, all continue to suffer from habitat loss and degradation.
Fortunately, there are ways to combat this rampant loss. Biocontrol measures have successfully targeted invasive species removal. Ecotourism on the islands has brought attention and education to many about the importance of conserving this vital resource. And, of course, forest restoration can be a crucial puzzle piece.
Way back in 1992, we ventured into completing our first landmark project in the islands by planting 32,300 native Acacia koa hardwood trees to provide habitat for several species of native Hawaiian birds, from the crimson ‘Apapane to the pudgy yellow ‘Akiapōlā‘au. This initiative, which marked the first of five years there, worked to restore habitat for these and other native species in Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge. Furthermore, they worked to combat another threat to Hawaii’s many native species: Koa helps create an overstory, which can allow native plants to recapture the site from non-native vegetative competition.
In addition, for those keeping up with American Forests trivia, we actually planted our 1 millionth tree within this project (have you heard about our 50 millionth?)! As such, this project marked the beginning of a fantastic initiative showing that more work still did — and continues to — need to be done, and we will make sure to continue to do it!
Find out the latest in forestry news in this week’s Forest Digest!
- How a Forest Responds to the Threatening Heat of 2100 — Scientific American
The U.S. Forest Service’s experiment in Puerto Rico tests how tropical rainforests will respond to rising temperatures. It’s one of the first experiments to model a realistic global climate system.
- It’s Not Just Coal and Oil: Forests Are Key to Climate — National Geographic
As the Paris Climate Talks approach, it’s important to consider the role forests play in fighting climate change, from storing carbon to releasing substantial amounts of greenhouse gases when cleared.
- Pine Cones’ Humidity Response Inspired New Technology For Tiny Robots — Nature World News
Nope, it’s not science fiction! The physiological of pine cones and plants are helping scientists design robots that are powered by changes in humidity.
- In Guatemala, People Living Off Forests Are Tasked With Protecting Them — New York Times
In the battle between the value of a forest, deforested versus thriving, local Guatemalans are charged with protecting the forests they so desperately need.
As we take time during the holiday season to focus on the things we are most thankful for, we think it’s important to take a moment to consider just a few of the many reasons we should be thankful for forests and the benefits they provide us.
1. Forests provide clean water.
Approximately 180 million people depend on forests for water.
2. Forests clean our air.
Trees help reduce pollutants by taking them up from soils and water through their roots.
3. Forests help the wildlife we love thrive.
Forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. In the U.S. alone, forests house 9,195 vascular plants and 1,165 vertebrate species.
4. Forests in our cities help keep us safe.
Urban forests have been linked to lower crime rates, a greater sense of public safety, and increased community involvement by residents.
5. Forests help keep us healthy.
Research shows that nature can improve both mental and physical health as well as reduce recovery time.
6. Forests provide economic benefits.
Urban trees in the continental U.S. store 770 million tons of carbon, valued at $14.3 billion. Plus, trees can increase home property value by 10-20 percent.
7. Forests help us combat climate change.
Currently, plants absorb and store about 15 percent of the United States’ total carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation and energy sectors.
8. Forests allow us to use less energy.
100 million mature trees growing around residences in the U.S. can save about $2 billion annually in energy costs.
9. Forests provide fun AND jobs.
Today there are 155 national forests in 42 states, plus one in Puerto Rico, comprising almost 190 million acres — 8.5 percent of the nation’s total land area. These forests help sustain the $646 billion a year recreation industry.
10. Forests help us relax.
Forests help us connect with nature. Plus, urban forests can help reduce noise pollution, allowing us to relax and focus better.
For original sources, as well as more interesting facts, visit our Forest Facts page.
By Andrew Bell, Policy Intern
In the final installment of this five-part glance at the Partnership for Trees, we’ll briefly look at a handful of 2015’s ongoing projects sponsored by this storied collaboration. But, perhaps most importantly, there is a distinction to be made; this may be the last piece of our celebratory storytelling, but it’s far from the last story that will be told. The plantings and restoration programs going on at this very moment don’t signify the very end of the partnership, but rather the promise of a companionship in conservation that has more to achieve.
In the states, the Partnership for Trees is teaming up with Anacostia Watershed Society this year to implement a portion of their Wells Run Stream Buffer Enhancement Project. By replacing invasive species in the area with 110 trees, the project is increasing storm water retention and curbing water pollution in Wells Run. All the while, 210 volunteers from nearby University Park Elementary School will be provided with a relevant and close-to-home outdoor education experience.
Meanwhile, Brazil is providing one of the greatest examples that American Forests and Alcoa Foundation aren’t the only ones having a monumental year. Nearly 30,000 trees are to be planted across 54 acres of land thanks to four separate projects across the country. Themes of promoting agroforestry, restoring ecological corridors, re-establishing nearly extinct species and improving watershed health span these four projects, all while engaging communities who are dependent on thriving forests for sustaining their quality of life.
After five years, we can throw around some breathtaking numbers: more than a million new trees planted, 4,100 acres of land revitalized and nearly 100 projects supported. But, for American Forests and Alcoa Foundation, there is still work to be done, both in alliance as well as individually, both in the U.S. and around the world. There are wildlands to be restored, urban forest canopies to see flourish and a global community to engage in caring for both. It’s an endeavor that can never truly be “finished,” and that fact is understandably daunting to some. But, like the forests we fight to conserve, there’s beauty to be found in our calling’s cyclical nature.
For all of the trees we plant, we aim to inspire as many burgeoning and curious minds. For every acre cured, we equip the communities who live on them with the knowledge and guidance to ensure their care. Forest by forest, state by state, country by country, we provide the flint for the burning passion of tomorrow’s stewards. So, when the day comes to lay down our shovels, the passing of the proverbial torch will not be with one flame from one hand to another. Rather, it will be the raising of many — spanning oceans and borders alike — all ready to carry on the ultimate deed for our planet.
Find out the latest in forestry news in this week’s Forest Digest!
- 360 Million Years Ago, The Earth Was On Fire — Forbes
Based on recently published research, this article looks at the history of, and relationship between, forests and fire.
- Ancient Fossil Forests Discovered in the Arctic — Discovery News
Recent studies in the arctic by Cardiff University reveal some of the first trees on earth from fossil findings.
- The Best Tall Building in 2015 Is Covered in Trees — Slate
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat recognized a building in Milan, known as Bosco Verticale, which is covered in 900 live trees and more than 2,000 plants.
- With invasive insects and development looming, New York forest land may be peaking — Phys.org
A recent report reveals that, due to damage caused by invasive insects and a continuing increase in development, the increasing forested land in New York state, currently 63 percent, will begin to slow.
Around this time of the year, we start frequently hearing the phrase “it’s better to give than to receive.” It’s certainly true, but what if this holiday season, you could give in two ways with just one gift? One great way to do this is to give the gift of trees to your loved ones. The trees you plant in your friends’, or loved ones’, names will provide so many benefits to not only our environment, but all of us that enjoy it as well!
But, maybe you prefer the thrill of watching someone tear open a more tangible wrapped gift? At American Forests, we are privileged to work with a number of corporate partners whose generous donations help make much of the work we do possible. So, we’ve created a list of gift ideas that can help you spread twice the cheer this holiday season by giving to your friends and family and to a good cause!
Preparing for the Holiday Season
As you prepare for the holiday season, here are a couple environmentally conscious options!
eCO2 Greetings: Planning on sending a holiday card from your business this year? Consider opting for a more eco-friendly route and send an ecard! Not only are you using less paper, but for every ecard ordered from eCO2 Greetings, they will plant 10 trees with us! So far, they have offset more than 76,000 tons of carbon through trees planted. You could add even more to that!
Tiny Prints: For personal holiday cards to friends and family, we’ve got you covered, too! Tiny Prints offers all kinds of creative holiday card options, from photo cards all the way to ornament cards! But, on top of providing custom cards, Tiny Prints has partnered with us to plant trees to offset their paper usage!
Whole Foods Market®: If you’re opting for a live Christmas tree to decorate your home with holiday cheer, head over to your local Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods Market has a great selection of Christmas trees in a range of sizes, but they have also partnered with us to plant a tree for each one they sell!
Green Gift Ideas
Here are some great gift ideas for those you care about the most!
S’well Bottle: Whether for the avid hiker, the fitness fanatic or anyone who drinks liquids (so, pretty much everyone you know!), a S’well bottle is a perfect gift option. Not only are these double-walled stainless steel bottles handy and efficient, their Wood collection is gorgeous in its elegant mimicking of natural wood grain! Plus, S’well partners with us to plant trees in threatened forest ecosystems across the country.
UncommonGoods: For a one-of-a-kind, unique gift, take a look at the range of gift ideas from UncommonGoods. From home décor and kitchen items, to beautiful jewelry and accessories, to handmade items, UncommonGoods has the perfect gift for anyone (or everyone) on your list this year. And, with their Better to Give campaign, you can select American Forests as your charity of choice and plant a tree for your purchase!
Origins: For the lover of natural (and amazing!) beauty products, look no further than Origins’ 2015 ornament, stuffed with samples of some of Origins’ most popular skincare products! For every ornament sold this holiday season, Origins has partnered with us to plant a tree!
Woodchuck, USA: Amazing wood journals, stylish (yet, rugged…in the best kind of way!) tablet and phone covers or a range of accessories, Woodchuck, USA’s gifts will help put nature back into everyday life! Through their Buy One, Plant One campaign, they will plant a tree with us for every product sold. Plus, you’ll get a certificate with the location of the tree your purchase planted.
Reveal: These days, so many people get a new tech item during the holidays. Why not compliment it with a new case! Reveal offers all kinds of phone and tablet cases made from eco-friendly materials. And, with their Project Replant campaign, Reveal will plant a tree with us for each Nature Tech Collection product sold!
WeWood: Take a new twist on a tradition holiday gift. Watches have been a go-to gift for years. So, why not spice up an old favorite with a WeWood wooden watch. WeWood offers both men’s and women’s watches, and, as part of their You Buy a Watch, We Plant a Tree campaign, they’ll plant a tree for each watch sold!
Eddie Bauer: For the adventure-seeker in your life, Eddie Bauer has some of the finest, and most stylish, outdoor apparel and gear! Plus, when you make a purchase at Eddie Bauer, you have the option to donate to American Forests to plant trees in threatened forest ecosystems.
As our journey continues in 1993, we venture into reforesting the aftermath of a practice that had been going on for much longer than 22 years — and a venture that is still equally important today, as evidenced by both past and present Global ReLeaf work.
This undertaking involves none other than the reclamation and reforestation of land affected by strip mining. Strip mining, which involves the removal of a long strip of overlying rock and soil, is most commonly used to mine coal in the United States, as it is less labor-intensive and generally reaps more coal than underground mining. Having first gained traction in the mid-sixteenth century, strip mining — which includes open-pit and mountaintop removal mining — is the most predominant form of mining coal in Appalachia and the Midwest.
However, the consequences of such mining practices can be devastating without proper environmental remediation. Strip mining can leave a permanent scar on landscapes, destroying forests and wildlife habitats at the site of the mines. Soil erosion and loss of soil fertility can result. In addition, increased risks of chemical contamination through the seepage of upturned minerals, polluted waterways, flooding and dust and noise pollution are all common risks.
This disturbance occurs on a fairly vast scale throughout the U.S. as well — between 1930 and 2000, coal mining altered approximately 5.9 million acres of natural landscape, much of it formerly forest. After mining, it can often be difficult for the land to support a landscape as complex and biodiverse as a forest, as the remaining soil is often extremely damaged and fragile.
With all that said, if there is one thing American Forests strives to do, it’s to restore and protect our nation’s forests. So, in 1993, we completed our first mining reclamation and reforestation project in Coshocton County, Ohio by planting 50,000 mixed hardwoods in an area that had been strip mined from 1963-1987. While some grasslands had developed in the six years prior to our planting, the land would have taken many years to begin to sprout any forested areas. As such, we jumpstarted this recovery with the help of local Boy Scouts, among others, to return this area to its former glory.
Our work has not stopped there, however. Just last year, in 2014, we undertook a similar endeavor in West Virginia, where we planted 55,000 trees in an area formerly used for mining to the benefit of dozens of wildlife, including the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, the ruffled grouse and the Cheat Mountain salamander. However, we, as humans, are never far behind with these benefits — this area serves as the headwaters for clean drinking water to millions in the Ohio River Valley and Washington, D.C. area, and these 55,000 trees are serving to prevent erosion and control sediment in our drinking water for years to come.
Find out the latest in forestry news in this week’s Forest Digest!
- Blazing our way to Apocalyse: The Unexamined Source of Our Climate Catastrophe— EnvironmentGuru.com
An examination of the U.S. pellet industry and its unacknowledged, but massive, impact on climate change.
- Poor Countries Do More When It Comes to Saving Forests — Scientific American
In developing countries, money does not equate to a commitment to saving the environment, says a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- Look at This: Brazil — NPR
Destruction of Brazil’s rain forests fuels their economy at the expense of air quality, water quality and amount of accessible water. Detailed photographs depict why Brazil’s rain forests are being incrementally destroyed and the impact on the economy, the environment and history.
- This Artist Recreated a Magnificent 40-Foot-Tall Tree from the Cascade Mountains by Hand— Smithsonian Magazine
Artist John Grade recreated a 150-year-old hemlock tree for the Renwick Gallery’s reopening in Washington D.C. Reclaimed wood and plaster casting comprise the piece entitled “Middle Fork.”
Plus, check out just a handful of the news stories covering the planting of our 50 millionth tree this week!
- Ryan Reynolds Plants Tree for Charity, Names Her ‘Gordon’ — People Magazine
- Ryan Reynolds Explains How He Hopes to Leave the World a Better Place for His Daughter James — E! Online
- Ryan Reynolds Talks Conserving the Environment for Baby James — Celebuzz!
- Ryan Reynolds’ Favorite Workout? Hiking With Baby James — US Weekly
- Ryan Reynolds on His Passion for the Environment: “I Will Do Almost Anything PG-13 with a Tree” — InStyle
- Good Guy Ryan Reynolds Plants Trees with Forest Protection Group, Wants Daughter to ‘Have a Wilderness’ — Zimbio