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Our roots run deep.

American Forests is the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the United States. Since our founding in 1875, we have been the pathfinders for creating healthy forests from coast to coast. In the early 1900s, for example, we rallied forest advocates to champion creation of the U.S. Forest Service. In 2018, we won a decade-long campaign persuading Congress to provide stable funding for preventing and fighting forest fires.

Now we are focused on building a reforestation movement in America, from cities to large, rural landscapes. We all rely on forests in order to survive and thrive, given the power they have to filter our air and water, provide jobs, mitigate climate change and more. But our forests are being degraded and destroyed at a rapid pace and large scale.

If we take care of our forests, they will take care of us.

Redwood National Park

Our Mission

American Forests creates healthy and resilient forests, from cities to wilderness, that deliver essential benefits for climate, people, water and wildlife. We advance our mission through forestry innovation, place-based partnerships to plant and restore forests, and movement building.

Our Vision

We envision a world in which the significant environmental, societal and economic benefits of forests are fully realized and equitably available to all people.

Our Goals

By 2030, we will accomplish the following by working with a diverse group of partners:

  • At least 4 billion trees are planted across 16 million acres of North America (this includes our pledge to the U.S. Chapter of 1t.org to plant 100 million trees); climate-smart practices are used to determine what trees to plant, where to plant them and how to manage them.
  • In 100 of America’s cities, every under-resourced neighborhood reaches a passing Tree Equity Score—an indicator that the neighborhood has enough trees in the right places so all people benefit from trees.
  • At least 100,000 people, particularly those from under-resourced communities, have entered jobs in forestry.

Why It Matters

Our goals are largely driven by the important role of forests in solving two critical issues: climate change and social inequities that people in under-resourced communities face. We also are driven by the need to protect America’s water and wildlife.

Climate Change

Forests are the best nature-based solution to climate change, given the amount of carbon emissions they capture.

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Social Equity

People benefit from trees and forests in countless ways. They purify our air, lower energy bills, are a source for jobs and more. We want all people, including those in under-resourced communities, to benefit from trees.

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Forests are key to addressing our global biodiversity crisis. They provide habitat for 80 percent of terrestrial-based wildlife.

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Forests provide us with a steady and high quality supply of water. More than half our drinking water comes from the rivers and streams that run through forests.

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The Urgency

Deforestation, climate change and urban development. These are some of the threats to forests. Here are just a few of the startling numbers related to the threats:

  • Our forests are burning more frequently and at a larger scale. In California, alone, more than 162 million trees have died since 2010, largely because of wildfires triggered by drought and other climate change-related stressors.
  • A 10-fold increase in heat-related deaths is expected across eastern U.S. cities by 2050, partly due to “heat islands” that form in treeless city neighborhoods.
  • By 2071, nearly half of the 204 freshwater basins in the U.S. may not be able to meet the monthly demand for water.
  • Worldwide, populations of forest-dependent wildlife species declined 53 percent between 1970 and 2014, on average.

Our Approach

Our approach to reaching our goals, which is shaped by the American Forests Impact Model, is three-pronged:

  • In our Innovation Lab, we incubate new tools and scientific research to help solve complicated puzzles and empower the forestry field. For example, our Tree Equity: Career Pathways Initiative has developed new ways to connect graduates from urban forestry job training programs with tree care employers.
  • We create place-based partnerships in cities and large, rural landscapes so we can work with others to develop enduring, science-based data and forestry plans that, among other things, include techniques for adapting to climate change. Next, we advocate for local, state and/or federal policies and programs—as well as funding to support them—so we can bring the plans to life. Last, we plant and care for forests so they are healthy and resilient for generations to come. We’ve planted hundreds of millions of trees over the last century and 60 million in the last 30 years alone.
  • We build movements that inspire and empower actions—such as the creation of new reforestation policies—at a large scale. The Forest-Climate Working Group, staffed and led by American Forests, is one of our key partners in doing so. It is the nation’s only forest sector coalition on climate change. Also, with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of Regional Councils, we manage Vibrant Cities Lab, the preeminent online resource for urban forestry research, tools and case studies.

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