Volunteers planting
Volunteers planting at the 2017 Rio Reforestation event in the LRGV. Credit: American Forests.

LIKE THE NATURAL ECOLOGY it supports, communities and businesses rely on healthy, sustainable watersheds for their survival. That is why The Coca-Cola Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company, places a priority on watershed protection, conservation and safe water access.

The Coca-Cola Foundation supports community watershed projects where there is a demonstrated need and the opportunity to make a lasting impact. American Forests is a recent recipient of a grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation that will do just that. With the help of The Coca-Cola Foundation, American Forests just kicked off three projects that will help reduce stormwater runoff, increase carbon sequestration and enhance wildlife habitats in California, Florida and Texas.

Each project area will focus on unique ecosystems that play a major role in supporting the sustainability of the watershed. Projects completed in California will bring tree canopy back to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, an integral source of water for the area. In Florida, where lack of water resources is not always seen as a prominent issue, attention will be on restoring the longleaf pine population. This species is essential to maintaining the recharge level for groundwater.

Coca-Cola associates will also join local community volunteers to help plant trees in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) next year. The tree plantings in the LRGV National Wildlife Refuge at the Sal del Rey site, along with urban “mini-refuge” projects in McAllen, Texas, will help reduce annual runoff in the LRGV and eliminate the need for irrigated water.

Altogether, the projects will replenish an estimated 961 million liters per year and produce aggregate carbon sequestration of 25,600 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over 20 years.