The Trillion Trees Movement

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Creating healthy and resilient forests across America is an all-hands-on-deck activity. There is a role in it for everybody — from individuals and local nonprofit organizations to federal government agencies and large corporations.

It’s now easier than ever for people in the United States to get involved.

You can do so through the U.S. Chapter of 1t.org, a global community committed to increasing the number of trees on the planet and preventing the loss of trees that are already in the ground. The global goal is 1 trillion trees conserved, restored or grown by 2030.

About the U.S. Chapter of 1t.org

The U.S. is the first region to join this community. In August, when the U.S. Chapter launched, 26 U.S.-based governments, companies and nonprofit organizations collectively pledged to plant or prevent the loss of 855 million trees, in cities and large forest landscapes here and abroad. They, too, pledged to take on supporting actions, such as investing in mapping technology and carbon finance, worth billions of dollars.

The pledging entities are part of a quickly growing movement to create healthy and resilient forests in the U.S. Recent wins for the movement include the Great American Outdoors Act, a historic conservation bill supported by both political parties, which was signed into law in August. And The REPLANT Act, which will help bring our national forests back to life, was introduced in the House and Senate in July, also with bipartisan support. The U.S. Chapter of 1t.org is the perfect way to hold onto and grow that enthusiasm, as it instantly brings together a community of like-minded people committed to action, not just talk.

The chapter is led by American Forests and the World Economic Forum. They help people create pledges, then provide them with the tools and technical assistance needed to bring the pledges to life at the unprecedented scale and speed necessary to stop deforestation and forest degradation. In the U.S., the greatest threats to forests are climate change-induced wildfires, droughts, diseases and pests. Sprawling development and a century of suppression of natural fires also has left many forests overgrown and unhealthy.

World Economic Forum also leads the global initiative, announced at the Forum’s 2020 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

American Forests partners ShiNaasha Pete and James Lozeau, of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, study ways to restore struggling whitebark pine forests. Photo credit: Morgan Heim / American Forests

Visit the 1t.org U.S. Chapter site

The American Forests Pledge

In addition to co-managing the U.S. chapter, American Forests has pledged to plant 101.2 million trees: 100 million trees in large forested landscapes, and 1.2 million trees in cities. 

Planting crews in the burn scar of the Camp Fire. Photo credit: Austin Rempel / American Forests

Large Forested Landscapes

American ReLeaf, an American Forests program that focuses on large forest landscapes, pledges to plant 100 million trees across the country by 2030. This will involve planting trees in forests that have been lost to wildfire, drought, conversion to farmland or suburbs, and more. To realize this ambitious goal, American ReLeaf also will support seed collection projects; nursery development; forestry research and tool development; and forest restoration work, such as tree thinning and controlled burns. Our diverse partners will include state, federal and tribal governments; nonprofits; private landowners; and research institutions.

View full pledge at us.1t.org

Members of the Branches to Chances Return to Work Program plant trees in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo credit: American Forests

City Forests

Through our urban forestry program, called Community ReLeaf, we pledge to plant and protect 1.2 million trees in cities across the United States by 2030. We will do so in order to create Tree Equity, which is about ensuring that all people, in all city neighborhoods, benefit from trees. We will reach our 1t.org goal by planting trees where there will be the highest impact, creating urban tree nurseries, using innovative financing to protect mature urban natural areas and developing career pathways for underemployed residents. We will do so in collaboration with government and nonprofit leaders.

View full pledge at us.1t.org

The Inspiration Behind the Action

Climate change is the driving force behind the U.S. Chapter. Forests and forest products capture 15% of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and can help double this impact when the 1t.org pledges are brought to life. The 855 million trees pledged so far will sequester more than 500 million tons of carbon dioxide over their lifetimes — equivalent to the annual emissions from 108 million cars.

Forests and forest products alone can’t solve climate change; additional emissions reductions are needed. But they make a substantial contribution, as they are the best nature-based solution to climate change.

Reaching the global goal won’t just help tackle climate change. It also will help improve the economy. For every $1 million invested in forest restoration, 39.7 forest-related jobs are created in rural U.S. areas alone.

And it will contribute to the health and well-being of people, a priority as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. In the U.S., trees absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollutants, helping to prevent 670,000 cases of asthma and other acute respiratory symptoms annually.

Increased awareness about the importance of equity and justice also presents an opportunity to put trees at the heart of how we reset our world to create a healthier, equitable and prosperous future. We have a moral imperative to ensure that every city neighborhood has enough trees so that every person benefits from them. We call this Tree Equity.

A worker cares for conifer seedlings at the U.S Forest Service nursery in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Credit: Chris Celentano | cdc-photography.com

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Why Is the Goal 1 Trillion Trees?

The goal of 1 trillion trees is based on several bodies of research — most notably, research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab that found the potential to restore tree coverage on 2.2 billion acres of degraded land. The authors of the research have suggested this could be accomplished by planting 1 trillion to 1.2 trillion trees. The Nature Conservancy has identified more than 20 million acres of U.S. public land – a combination of federal, state, tribal and local land, as well as land in cities – that presents opportunities for reforestation.

The goal refers to new trees, as well as preventing the loss of trees, because the size of any forest carbon sink is determined by the trees in the ground that store carbon minus carbon losses to the atmosphere when trees are removed from a forest through wildfires, conversion of forests to farms, tree mortality and more. The goal, therefore, will ensure a strong net gain in carbon sequestration to slow climate change.

How You Can Help

If you want to make a pledge, consider on-the-ground actions you can take, such as planting trees in forests that have been devastated by wildfires or in city parks, managing forests in such a way that it is easier for trees to naturally grow back, and using conservation easements to permanently protect forests.

Pledges also can relate to things that don’t require being among the trees, such as creating new government policies related to forests, developing markets for sustainably-produced forest products and inventing new technology for better forest management.

If you cannot make a pledge you can:

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