Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does American Forests do?
A: We work to protect and restore forests around the world, using a comprehensive approach to forest conservation. We plant millions of trees each year through our Global ReLeaf program, partner to restore damaged ecosystems, advocate for sound, science-based forest conservation policy, and work with cities to expand urban tree canopy cover. We also coordinate the National Big Tree program and publish the National Register of Big Trees twice a year to foster an interest in and appreciation of the largest and most significant trees in the country.
Q: There are a lot of environmental nonprofits out there. What sets American Forests apart?
A: We are the only national nonprofit organization focused exclusively on protecting and restoring forests. What makes this work so important is that forest health is critical to addressing the most pressing environmental challenges facing our planet today – including climate change, the availability of clean drinking water, declining air quality, and vanishing wildlife habitat.
Q: Who plants the trees?
A: American Forests works with a wide variety of local partners to design and execute its forest restoration projects. In some cases, we work with local branches of federal and state agencies, like the Forest Service. In others, we collaborate with local groups that have particular expertise.
Q: How do you decide which projects to take on?
A: We choose projects that will provide the greatest environmental and societal benefits, as well as those that have the greatest chances of success. We aren’t interested in just planting massive numbers of trees, but want to plant the right trees in the right places for the right reasons. For a list of our past projects and their descriptions, visit our Global ReLeaf page.
Q: Does American Forests work anywhere besides the US?
A: Yes. Despite the name, our work covers the globe. We have planted trees in every state in the US, and more than 30 different countries around the world. Forests and the important issues that surround them affect virtually every nation.
Q: Do you make sure that all of your corporate sponsors are eco-friendly?
A: Many of our corporate sponsors are eco-friendly. Scotties facial tissue, for instance, plants three trees for each one it uses. Chegg, the textbook rental company, offers students recycled books as an alternative to energy-intensive production of new ones. In other cases, we help companies become greener by improving the environment and offsetting the carbon they expend.
Q: Why should I donate to benefit forests instead of people?
A: The health of forests and people are very closely connected. Forests are essential for clean air, clean water, and to combat global climate change – benefits that no human can live without. Perhaps less obvious, trees and forests raise property values, decrease crime rates, and can help improve local economies.
Q: Does planting just one tree, or even ten, really make a difference?
A: Yes! On average, one mature tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year, and can provide enough oxygen for two people. One tree can also intercept roughly 760 gallons of rainwater in its lifetime, reducing stormwater runoff and erosion. Read more about the benefits of trees here.
Q: Why is it so important to plant native tree species?
A: The important thing to remember is that a forest is an ecosystem – it consists of specific types of flora and fauna, as well as all the interactions between them. In a healthy ecosystem, the different plants and animals act as a system of checks and balances that keeps any one species from taking over and causing the ecosystem to collapse.
When you introduce a new, non-native species into the mix, it can come without the necessary checks and balances. For instance, without the animals that usually eat it, one type of plant can grow exponentially, stealing resources from the other local flora, and gradually replacing the native species.
Q: What percentage of American Forests’ budget goes to its conservation programs?
A: American Forests has excellent charity ratings from the top nonprofit monitoring groups. Almost 75 percent of American Forests’ budget goes to our program work. You can see the exact numbers for each fiscal year in our Annual Reports.
Q: What are the benefits of becoming a member of American Forests?
A: American Forests’ members automatically receive our award-winning quarterly publication American Forests magazine, our e-newsletter Forestbytes, and regular updates on our work. They are also the first to hear about new opportunities to become engaged in our work, and opportunities to learn more about forests and trees.
Q: I want to help American Forests’ mission, but am not able to make a donation. Is there another way for me to contribute?
A: Donations are what allow us to accomplish our work in ecosystem restoration, tree planting, policy, environmental education, and more. But there are other things that you can do to help. Staying informed and helping to spread the word about the issues facing forests today are some of the most important things you can do. When you read the latest issue of Forest Files, forward it to friends and co-workers. Find us on Facebook and Twitter to get even more tree- and forest-related news. Share what you learn with your friends, and point them towards the same resources. The more people know and understand about why forests need to be protected and restored, the easier our work will be.
Q: How will my donation be used?
A: To specify where you want your donation to go, simply click the appropriate box before confirming your information.
Q: Can I donate to benefit a specific project, region, or species?
A: At times, American Forests will run special campaigns focused on specific projects or initiatives, such as a massive effort to restore the decimated whitebark pine forests in the Upper Yellowstone region, or projects that specifically target sensitive areas like the Chesapeake Bay. To stay on top of current campaigns and promotions, sign up for our email list.
Q: Do you have to donate regularly to be a member?
A: The cost of an American Forests membership is $25 per year, but additional donations help us to do more to restore and protect forests. If you would like to do more and become an ongoing contributor, we offer a simple monthly or quarterly credit card billing option.
Q: Can I plant trees in someone else’s name as a gift?
A: Certainly. We think that planting trees on someone’s behalf is a great way to honor them – and since trees provide so many natural benefits, it is the ultimate “gift that keeps on giving.” To use the gift option, simply check the appropriate box when you click on Plant Trees, and fill out the necessary information.
Q: If I become a member, how will my information be used?
Q: I want to apply for an American Forests grant for a tree-planting project in my region. What do I need?
A: The Global ReLeaf Global grant application is not available at this time.
Q: Can I volunteer for American Forests?
A: We are developing a number of volunteer engagement opportunities, including a forest walk leadership series, in which volunteers would lead people from their community on informative walks in the woods. There will be more information available once these programs start, so stay tuned.
Q: Can I be a member, but not receive the magazine?
A: Yes. You can opt out of receiving the magazine by checking the appropriate box on our membership page.
Q: Is it wrong to use paper or other forest products?
A: If done responsibly, no. When timber, paper, medicines, or other products are harvested sustainably, using them does not destroy the local forest or ecosystem and can provide a number of environmental benefits. And because wood is a renewable resource, it’s greener than many other building materials. The key is reducing waste and ensuring that timber is harvested in a sustainable way. By making sure that the companies you buy from are producing their products sustainably, you can encourage other companies to use the same eco-friendly practices.
Q: What does it mean to use forests in a sustainable way?
A: Using forests sustainably means doing so in a way that lets them continue to function as healthy forest ecosystems. This can mean taking down only trees of a certain type or age, planting more trees than are used, maintaining diversity of species and age instead of monocultures, or other forest-friendly methods.