By Andrew Bell, Policy Intern

One of our projects in Brazil with partners Alcoa Foundation and Associação Empresarial de Tubarão.
One of our projects in Brazil with partners Alcoa Foundation and Associação Empresarial de Tubarão.

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.