City trees in Samara, Russia
City trees in Samara, Russia. Credit: abrigenn/Flickr

Through our multi-year Partnership for Trees collaboration with Alcoa Foundation, hundreds of thousands of trees are being planted on damaged and degraded sites throughout the world, but one project in particular represents the epitome of “degraded”: a garbage dump.

In Samara, Russia, American Forests and Alcoa employees are working with the Training Center for Ecology and Safety on Trees in the City — planting 180 trees in the city’s Kirovskiy District, including the spot that has served as the area’s household waste dump for a decade.

It may sound like a stinky job, but around 60 local students and Alcoa volunteers are willing to get their hands dirty to reclaim this site as greenspace for future recreation. In all, the project will plant about 180 ashberry, linden, maple, pine and birch, whose leaves are said to shimmer in the wind.

But the real shimmering stars of this project are the students. In addition to volunteering their time for the planting, they also kicked the project off with an educational seminar, “The Environmental Characteristics of Urban Trees,” to gain a better understanding of the importance of their work. Urban trees not only provide wildlife habitat and help clean air and water, they also bring residents closer to nature, reducing stress and imparting a sense of well-being. So, what was one generation’s trash will become the next generation’s treasure as the local students continue to monitor and maintain the site in the future.

Samara is a city with a record of investing in trees for youth. Last year, American Forests and Alcoa Foundation partnered with the Training Center on a schoolyard landscaping project called “On a Visit to the Forest.” We’re delighted to continue our partnership with them, helping to educate the next generation of urban tree huggers.