Community ReLeaf in Detroit


by Amanda Tai
Meeting in Rouge Park with Davey Resources Group, the Greening of Detroit, and the Friends of Rouge Park

Last week, Melinda Housholder and I, aka American Forests’ urban forest team, traveled to Detroit, Mich., the site of one of the Community ReLeaf 2013 projects. We had the opportunity to meet a lot of folks working on greening initiatives in Detroit and saw a lot of the city. It was a very interesting time to visit the city, being in the midst of its bankruptcy.

A few neighborhoods we drove past were well-maintained with beautifully landscaped traffic islands, but the majority of what we saw was abandoned houses and buildings with boarded-up windows. Many of the abandoned neighborhoods were only a short distance from Rouge Par... (Read More)




Keep Cool, Keep Clean


by Susan Laszewski
Stomata on a purple heart plant

Trees clean our air: In addition to absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen, they also play an important role in filtering some of the most common pollutants. During a heat wave, however, a method that plants employ to conserve water also prevents them from filtering as much pollution. When the ground is dry, plants close their stomata — pore-like openings — to keep water in, but the stomata are also the mechanism through which they absorb all that air pollution, including ozone. While atmospheric ozone protects us from harmful cosmic rays, close to the earth, it’s the primary component of smog. So while water stays in when plants clo... (Read More)




The Giving Trees


by Scott Maxham
Apple trees are among the fruit trees being planted in this project. Credit: Liz West

With obesity rates constantly climbing and 75 percent of adults not consuming the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables, could trees help humanity pick a pear in place of a burger? Many cities believe that free fruits and vegetables could be a simple way to engage the public and help us all stay healthy. Cities are seeing trees and plants that provide fruit, vegetables and nuts pop up all over — in medians, parking lots, abandoned lots, sidewalks and even graveyards.

It is a sad fact that eating fast food is cheaper than buying fruits or vegetables. The CDC recommends that fresh and free produce be made as accessi... (Read More)




Clearing the Air


by American Forests
Air pollution in New York City’s Washington Heights

By Michelle Werts

“Air pollution is causing more deaths than HIV or malaria combined,” Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, told a conference in Oslo trying to work out new U.N. development goals for 2030. –The Huffington Post Green, April 9, 2013

Sometimes, when talking about air pollution, we get so caught up in the web of science and climate change that we forget about one of the basics: Air pollution is bad for you.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, poor air quality can:

Irritate the respiratory system. Reduce lung... (Read More)



Fire in the Wildland-Urban Interface


by Amanda Tai
Credit: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region/Flickr

There remains a constant tension between the ecological benefits provided by periodic wildfire and the negative impacts it can have on human populations. Most often, we hear about the devastating effect that wildfires have on people and communities, which was especially tragic over the weekend. American Forests sends our condolences to the families and friends of the firefighters who lost their lives battling the Arizona forest fires.

One of the reasons the news is so often negative these days is because wildfire seasons are longer and more intense than ever before. America’s wildfire season lasts about two months longer t... (Read More)