by Eileen Weber
A few weeks ago, we had a large maple tree taken down in our backyard. It was diseased and leaned a bit too precariously toward my neighbor’s roof line. Without it, our lawn, which is about the size of a snow shoe, does look a little bigger. And certainly, we have more sun. But I must admit, I miss it. I also have a twinge of guilt about removing a tree.
It’s a well-known fact that trees help keep our air clean. They absorb carbon dioxide and contaminants in the air. They emit clean oxygen for us to breathe. They shade us and keep us cool.
These strong points are not lost on many environmental groups who wish to plant more trees worldwide. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) launched their Billion Tree Campaign in which they hope to plant seven billion trees by the end of this year. They are well on their way so far with over four billion already planted.
According to a press release from the UNEP, groups around the world have committed themselves to planting more trees. The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture planted 687 million trees last year. In Turkey, government and non-governmental organizations as well as a number of civilians planted over 300 million trees in 2008.
Just this month, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reported that Pakistan set a world record by planting 541,176 young mangroves tree. They beat out neighboring India in a friendly competition to reforesting some sadly neglected areas.
Even in work-torn Iraq, there is a government group committed to planting new trees and fresh landscaping to guard against wind storms and desertification. According to a report from the Alsumaria Iraqi Satellite TV Network on July 22nd, the Water Resources Ministry has confirmed the plantings in approximately 500 acres of land in the regions of Babel, Najaf, Kut, Amarah, Anbar and Al-Azim. The plantings are meant to provide “efficient methods to reduce the impact of natural factors and raise of temperature” as well as preserving moisture in the soil.
Closer to home, there are a few New England-based environmental groups who are on their own tree campaign, including here in Connecticut. The Norwalk Tree Alliance (NTA) is a non-profit organization that helps promote the healthy forestation of their town. This past May, the NTA held a tree festival in conjunction with the Wilton Garden Club. It showcased environmental exhibits, tree care demonstrations, and a rope tree-climb for kids complete with harnesses and hard hats.
According to an article in The Day on July 20th, the Maine Department of Conservation, the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, and Environment Northeast, which has an office in Connecticut, are working together to promote tree planting as a solution to climate change. The groups suggest financial incentives should be offered to land owners to prevent over-development, to better manage existing forestland, and to “urge cities, towns and schools to plant and maintain trees in parks and along streets.”
In Washington D.C., the non-profit organization Casey Trees organizes groups to plant trees, teaches their volunteer base about planting, and instructs district school children on the benefits of tree planting. Founded in 2001, their focus is to keep D.C.’s tree canopy in tact. According to an April 27th press release, Casey Trees launched an Urban Tree Goal (UTG) to increase the D.C. area’s total coverage from 35% to 40%. To reach this goal, they propose to plant over 8,000 trees for the next 25 years, a total of over 200,000 new trees.
As Shakespeare quipped in Romeo and Juliet, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So it is with trees. They are a benefit to us and our environment. With a shovel, a sapling, and some elbow grease, you can single-handedly make the air we breathe cleaner and healthier. Now that’s what I call a win-win situation.
Photo courtesy of FreeFoto.com.