Today, 2013 comes to an end. Many have said that 13 is an unlucky number, but 2013 hasn’t been all unlucky. After all, it was the year of our 45 millionth Global ReLeaf tree in the ground, a comeback for Siberian tigers, the launch of our Community ReLeaf program and good news for the Kirtland’s warbler. So, before heading into 2014, we’re taking this last chance to embrace the number 13. Here are the 13 Loose Leaf posts of 2013 that you — our readers — enjoyed the most. Thanks for reading! Please join us again in 2014!

We learned that by protecting just 17 percent of the world’s land, we can preserve 67 percent of plant species.

Lush forest.
Lush forest. Credit: Sam Agnew

We celebrated Johnny Appleseed’s birthday with a look at some of the fruit trees American Forests is planting around the world to help communities. We think Johnny would have approved.

A study found that through nitrogen-fixation, forests can help themselves heal faster from agricultural use.

Sometimes you just need a little simplicity. That’s where nature can come in. Or, some beautiful prose. On the birthday of American author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau, we took some time to enjoy both.

Amur tiger and cub
Amur tiger and cub. Credit: digitalART2/Flickr

A new report brought tidings of a recovery of tigers in a few key Asian ecosystems, one of which was very familiar to American Forests: the Siberian forests where trees we helped plant a decade ago in “Trees for Tigers” are now maturing.

This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree came from Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington. It’s quite a different tradition from that of the National Christmas Tree, which has been a live tree throughout most of its history ever since American Forests donated the first live tree in ___

Everyone has a favorite tree, but when we posted this homage to an incredible species, it was clear that for many of you, the sugar maple holds that spot.

Old-growth hemlock within Snyder-Middleswarth Natural Area of Bald Eagle State Forest, Penn
Old-growth hemlock within Snyder-Middleswarth Natural Area of Bald Eagle State Forest, Penn. Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli

2013 has been a rough year for monarchs and people are taking note.

Everyone loves a national park, and Zion National Park has a lot to love.

Science Advisory Board member Dr. Jerry Franklin sat down with Loose Leaf to discuss what large, old trees provide ecosystems that younger growth just can’t make up for.

Okay, many of you joined us in wishing Zion a happy birthday, but Sequoia National Park — and the world’s largest trees that live within it — seem to have captured even more hearts, at least among readers here on Loose Leaf.

We celebrate animals every day at American Forests, with restoration projects around the world that benefit wildlife by restoring habitat and connecting fragmented habitat. But it’s always nice to take some time out on World Animal Day to reflect on the species we share the forests with.

Monarch on milkweed
Monarch on milkweed. Credit: s3728/Flickr

And the most popular Loose Leaf story of 2013…

1. “Giving Butterflies a Boost” September 11, 2013

…takes us back to the monarchs of Michoacán — and reveals the organized crime that has had a hand in reducing the monarchs’ numbers until the world’s population of fit into an area smaller than four football fields.

Here’s hoping that in 2014 and the years beyond, we’ll see better news for the monarchs, tigers, sugar maples and all the other species that we’re working to protect. But we can do more than just hope — and you can help. We’re planting trees to restore habitat for endangered species, urging Congress to proactively address threats to our forests and providing communities with the tools to help manage their vital urban forests. Please give us a hand.