National Arbor Day is April 29th. This is a day set aside as a special day for tree planting. As Climate Mamas and Papas, trees are a critical part of our climate hope and for our hope for a sustainable and livable future for our children. We were fortunate recently to get a chance to sit down with Dan Lambe, President of the Arbor Day Foundation and ask him a few questions about his work and about some of the key programs of the Arbor Day Foundation. One program in particular that we were interested in learning more about is Tree City USA, which is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary in 2016. Grab the kids in your life and join us as we learn a few things about trees, tree planting, hope and the Arbor Day Foundation.
As Dan told us, the broad mission of the Arbor Day Foundation is to plant, nurture and celebrate trees; including helping to encourage city and community forestry. Tree City USA recognizes and encourages the good management and care of community forests in cities and towns. Dan shared with us that in furthering it’s mission, the Arbor Day Foundation works with many partners in innumerable ways including with the US Forest Service, with cities and towns across the US, with international partners, with utilities, researchers, universities, students, educators and architects, to name only a few. The Arbor Day Foundation and it’s many partners are always working to find new ways to plant forests, to help people explore nature and to foster our wonder and love for trees and all they are and what they represent.
According to Dan, the Arbor Day Foundation through it’s Tree City USA program, works with “all sizes of cities and towns to incorporate tree care plans, management plans, and strategies to help manage their trees. It has worked with towns as small as Sibley, North Dakota with 28 people and with New York City and it’s millions of people.” It made me wonder how many trees are actually growing in New York City? Believe it or not, there are hundred’s of thousands of trees, and New York is trying to find out exactly how many through an ongoing tree census, where residents help to count the trees. As we Climate Mamas and Papas well know, it’s important to know what you have, so that when it’s no longer there, you know what you’ve lost. More than 3400 cities across the US have the Tree City USA designation. Does your city fly the Tree City USA Flag or have the Tree City sign visible? Find out; and if not, why not?
Dan reminded us that trees do many things, that can help us as we live climate change, including: “reducing storm water run off which slows down flooding, beautifying our neighborhoods, and shading our homes which can help us reduce the need for energy consumption.” Importantly as well, trees help to store and sequester carbon.” Trees are critical if we hope to help our planet restore it’s balance as we fight back against climate change and for a sustainable future and now for our families.
One of our climate heroes at Climate Mama is an amazing woman who is known the world over for planting trees, her name is Wangari Maathai and she is the founder of the Kenyan Green Belt Movement. Arbor Day seems like a wonderful day to remember Wangari Maathai, whom we lost in 2011, and to introduce our children to her and her work, if they do not already know of her. In 2006, Wangari Maathai launched a campaign with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) to plant 1 billion trees. Incredibly, this goal was meet in it’s first year and the program Plant for the Planet, continues to this day. Grab the kids in your life and share with them some of the stories, the determination and the commitment of Wangari Maathai. Show them how one person CAN truly make a difference.
How will you and your family celebrate Arbor Day? It’s a great time to ask the kids in your life why trees are important to them. You can remind them at the same time why we plant, cherish and honor trees and all they stand for.
Here are our TOP Five reasons for celebrating and cherishing trees, today and EVERY day. Share them with the kids in your life and ask them why they think we should celebrate and cherish trees.
1. Social – Trees make us happy! Trees are a strong support during hot summer days, and on windy or rainy days as well. Trees provide shade for us, cool our homes with their branches and they are often planted to mark a special event that lets us remember year after year, that special day, event or person. Trees bring us peace, make us feel strong, and help make our communities more livable places.
2. Climate – Trees and in particular forests of trees, act as “carbon sinks” absorbing carbon dioxide and protecting our atmosphere. As we humans pump more and more human caused greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, forests absorb a significant amount of the carbon dioxide we produce, helping to mitigate the most harmful affects from global warming.
3. Harmony – Trees and forests are critical ecosystems that help our planet stay in balance. As we have taken land and cut down forests, we have disrupted the balance of nature. Planting trees is a step forward to restore natures harmony.
4. Health – Trees act as nature’s water filters, controlling storm run off, erosion and flooding. They help reduce sound by absorbing noise in cities and help cool us with their shade. Trees absorb a wide range of air pollutants, helping to improve air quality, particularly in urban centers, where the “heat island” effect is exacerbated.
5. Just Because – Strength, Inspiration, Beauty, Security, Safety, Serenity…Just Because….
Mother and kids Tree Planting: Photo By McKay Savage from London, UK (India – Kids – Planting trees for her future) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons