Since its inception 25 years ago, American Forests’ Global ReLeaf program has completed more than 1,000 projects, planting nearly 50 million trees in all 50 U.S. states and 45 countries around the world. These projects are completed in cooperation with local nonprofits, businesses and government agencies, and help reforest areas damaged by wildfire, disease, deforestation, natural disasters and more.

Some of the 2015 projects include:

Greenbrier River in West Virginia. Photo Credit: Phil Virgo
Greenbrier River in West Virginia. Photo Credit: Phil Virgo
  • Along West Virginia’s Greenbrier River in Monongahela National Forest, American Forests is planting more than 3,000 red spruce and other species to improve the health of the riparian ecosystem. A long history of logging and farming has reduced shade and elevated water temperature to near lethal limits for brook trout. The project will restore cool stream temperatures and provide much-needed cover for the trout, hellbender salamanders and other sensitive aquatic species.
  • In Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest, American Forests is planting more than 350,000 ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir to restore an ecosystem affected by the 2012 Pole Creek Fire, which burned more than 10,000 acres, leaving little or no surviving forest cover. This project will control erosion, maintain wildlife habitat and restore a highly utilized recreational area. The project will also work with Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC), an alternative high school program that provides opportunities for youth to learn and work in the outdoors while restoring and caring for our forests.
  • American Forests will plant 106,000 ponderosa pines in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest to help restore an area that was damaged by wildfire and is widely used for wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation. The rehabilitation project will help establish forest cover, provide wildlife habitat and, over time, protect soils and watersheds. The planting area is important for the northern goshawk, a species whose habitat in the American Southwest is shrinking, as well as numerous bird species, game species such as mule deer and a variety of small mammals.
  • In the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge in Vermont, American Forests is planting 500 red maple, green ash and sugar maple to improve the health of a riparian ecosystem. Because of past tree removal, annual floods have been causing erosion and downstream sedimentation. Improved overall water quality will benefit aquatic life, including five species of mussels listed as threatened and endangered. The planting will also enhance habitat along the Missisquoi River corridor for migratory bird species such as the warbling vireo, Baltimore oriole, yellowthroat, yellow warbler and swamp sparrow.
  • For American Forests’ first project in Madagascar, we are planting 9,000 trees in the Beanka Forest to connect fragmented wildlife habitat and provide economic opportunities to the local community, reducing reliance on the natural forest. More than 97 percent of Madagascar’s dry deciduous forests have been destroyed because of slash-and-burn agricultural practices, logging and charcoal production, with little chance to regenerate on their own. Of the approximately 250,000 species on the island, between 70 and 80 percent are estimated to be endemic — found nowhere else in the world. These include unique mammals such as the tenrec, fossa and the island’s unofficial mascots — the lemurs.

Global ReLeaf’s Silver Anniversary

To commemorate the program’s 25th birthday, American Forests will publish bi-weekly posts over the course of 2015 on the organization’s blog, Loose Leaf, highlighting one or more projects from each year of the program since it began in 1990.