By Doyle Irvin, American Forests
Picture yourself making your yearly migration over to your parent’s house, or your in-law’s house or maybe even to your children’s house, looking forward to seeing a new grandchild and eating yourself into sedation. Maybe Sinatra is playing through your car stereo, or the person next to you on the airplane shows you their fantastically awful holiday sweater. A sense of bonhomie wafts from strangers, and you find yourself thinking about hot chocolate or cider far more frequently than is normal.
Then, you finally arrive at your destination…but, it’s just not there.
Where is your family? Where is your childhood home? What happened to this place you knew so well and loved so much? Did you make a wrong turn somewhere? Did the house burn down? Did they load it onto the back of a truck and drag it to the other side of the country?
Every year, thousands upon thousands of our nation’s most beloved animals lose their homes. Their trees are cut and turned into paper, and the barren land then grows condominiums in its place. They, and their families, are squeezed into ever-shrinking areas, reducing their available food supply and decimating their numbers by the thousands.
This holiday season, American Forests is teaming up with our partners on a multi-channel campaign to save the forest habitats of some truly special animals: the Kirtland’s Warbler, the Gopher Tortoise, the Ocelot, the Grizzly Bear and the Pacific Salmon. Each of these species is iconic to their region, and all of them are endangered.
Our mission is to rebuild the habitats of these incredible animals. We have a track record of success: our plantings in the Hiawatha National Forest and the AuSable State Forest have already empowered the beginning of the Kirtland Warbler’s comeback — over the course of 28 years, we planted more than 1.8 million jack pines, and their population increased more than 1,300 percent.
The job is not finished, however. Thirteen-hundred percent still leaves the male Warbler population at only 2,365. The grizzly bear population of the American West is at 3 percent of what it was a century ago. In the same region, Pacific salmon are now considered extinct in 40 percent of the rivers they once flourished in. Just 4 percent of the Gopher tortoise’s native longleaf pine habitat still stands. And, only around 50 ocelots exist in the United States today.
It’s not just these specific species that benefit from restoring the forest. One square kilometer of forest may be home to more than 1,000 species. That sounds heartening, but you have to keep in mind that more than 12,000 square kilometers (roughly the size of New Jersey) of endangered-species-specific forest have been lost since 2001.
Join American Forests this holiday season in our efforts to restore the populations of these essential animals. Help us reforest the planet, before it is too late.
When you are considering what to give to friends and family this holiday, think about the lasting value you can contribute to the world your loved ones will live in with a pledge to help our endangered wildlife and forests. Help create a safe place to live for thousands of animals through our Home for the Holidays campaign.
They have nowhere else to turn.