More Than Five Million Trees to Be Planted

WASHINGTON, D.C.; December 21, 2011 — The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. American Forests has pledged to continue its public awareness efforts on the benefits of forests for the health of the planet and personal well-being into 2012 and beyond, starting with the “Forests for Fifty” campaign.

For the first time in its 136-year history, American Forests is completing reforestation and education projects in all 50 of America’s states throughout one planting campaign. The only national non-profit focused exclusively on protecting and restoring forests is planting more than five million trees with our dedicated partners around the country throughout 2011 and 2012, including at least 200,000 trees through its partnership in the Subaru “Share the Love” event.

“During the last two decades, we’ve undertaken forest restoration and planting projects in all 50 states and 38 countries around the world,” says Scott Steen, CEO of American Forests, “but we’ve never tackled projects in all 50 states in one campaign. Beyond planting trees, we are committed to increasing public awareness of the enormous benefits trees can provide to individuals, their communities and the world.”

As reported at the U.N. Climate Change Conference by the World Meteorological Organization, 2011 was tied as the 10th hottest year on record since record-keeping began in 1850. Forests are a key ally in combating climate change. According to the USDA Forest Service, forests offset 16 percent of the United States’ fossil fuel emissions of carbon.

American Forests’ “Forests for Fifty” campaign will focus on raising public awareness about the vital role forests play in combating climate change, cleaning our air and water, reducing energy needs and providing habitat for wildlife. To do so, the “Forests for Fifty” planting projects will:

  • Restore Forest EcosystemsEvery year, millions of acres are destroyed due to wildfires, droughts, hurricanes and other natural causes. Add in millions more acres destroyed due to disease and insects, and the result is suffering ecosystems across the country, endangering our drinking water, oxygen, wildlife and more.

One of the projects:
The hundred-feet-tall American chestnuts were once a common sight in America’s eastern hardwood forests — four billion of them existed on 180 million acres. By the mid 1950s, they were almost extinct thanks to chestnut blight, a foreign fungus. “Forests for Fifty” projects in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia are planting blight-resistant chestnuts on reclaimed mine lands at sites to restore this American species to eastern forests.

  • Protect Wildlife Habitat: Some creatures can only be found in forests — and specific forests at that, such as Kirtland’s warbler, which only makes its home in the Jack pines of Michigan. Others need forests in which to rest during their migrations from one seasonal home to another. Only through the protection of their habitats can we ensure the survival of endangered wildlife species.

One of the projects:
By the mid-1900s, Kirtland’s warbler, a rare bird native to Michigan’s upper peninsula, was almost extinct, so over the last 20 years, American Forests has worked with partners in Michigan to plant Jack pines, the only tree in which a Kirtland’s warbler will breed. As part of the “Forests for Fifty,” American Forests continues this work.

  • Educate the Public: Protecting forests and trees isn’t a job for just one organization, government or community, but is something we can all participate in. Many of our tree planting projects work with local communities to educate residents on the benefits of their trees and how to best ensure their survival.

One of the projects:
American Forests will be planting trees at Burroughs Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which will increase the community’s tree canopy, provide educational experiences for the students and reduce the energy needs of the school because of the cooling effect of trees.

  • Support Urban Forests: Strategically placed trees in cities help improve air quality through the removal of carbon and other pollutants from the air and help ease energy consumption due to their shade and cooling properties. Urban forests also help reduce stormwater runoff and diminish pollution in streams and rivers.

One of the projects:
Sixty percent of America’s freshwater comes to our cities and homes thanks to forests, which absorb, filter and distribute the water. American Forests is planting trees in five cities in Kansas to reforest areas along streams and rivers to help clean and maintain the state’s urban water supplies.

For more information on the individual projects in each state, please visit our “Forests for Fifty” campaign page.

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About American Forests
American Forests restores and protects urban and rural forests. Founded in 1875, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country has served as a catalyst for many of the most important milestones in the conservation movement, including the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest and national park systems, and literally thousands of forest ecosystem restoration projects and public education efforts. Since 1990, American Forests has planted nearly 40 million trees in forests throughout the U.S.and beyond, resulting in cleaner air and drinking water, restored habitat for wildlife and fish, and the removal of millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Learn more at


Michelle Werts
202-737-1944 ext. 212