The importance of trees to disaster-stricken communities

700_wgiz8u07llhuw3fdmsurbtnjojmecbeb[1]The tornado outbreak that ripped across the Midwest last weekend left thousands of residents with nothing more than shattered homes, trees, rubble — the only souvenir left by the disaster covers the grounds where towns once stood— and, most importantly, hope.

The most recent storm is a reminder that natural disasters will strike anywhere, without an invitation. As a result, it’s vital we’re prepared to protect the areas affected most. The Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery was created out of the great need for trees in the wake of natural disasters, and began by providing tree relief to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. Replanting trees after a tragedy helps survivors to look to the future; a reminder to be hopeful. Trees bring beauty, healing, and hope to areas in most need.

tree_tagcloud_1[1]Trees don’t only serve as means of beautification; they play an essential role in environmental sustainability. They help fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air. They lower energy costs by providing shade around your home. When planted along streams and wetlands they prevent erosion and clean the water. Trees provide home to surrounding habitat, not to mention the nutritional value their fruits have to offer.  Unfortunately, in the rouse of natural disaster, trees are also the most common casualty. By replanting trees after a tragedy we help to restore a sense of hope to the community and its members.

After the severe tornado damage caused in Joplin, Missouri in the spring of 2011, the Arbor Day Foundation joined forces with the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center to distribute 12,000 trees to residents in four Joplin-area locations.

“Trees are part of the long and important history of the people and the land of their state,” said Dan Lambe, Arbor Day Foundation vice president of programs.

As noted earlier, the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster is what lead the Arbor Day Foundation to team up with the National Audubon Society and launch the Community Tree Recovery campaign. The campaign has since planted more than 120,000 new trees to residents impacted by the storm.Tree Campus USA

You can help rebuild communities struck by natural disasters by donating to the Community Tree Recovery campaign. This fund allows us to be prepared to provide trees for distribution in communities like Joplin and New Orleans. Remember, trees bring beauty, healing, and hope to areas in most need.

Wood Fossils Show Ancient Antarctica was home to Exotic Forests

Trees in Antarctica? The idea of forests at the South Pole may be somewhat of an unusual idea to the cold climates Antarctica boasts; but new research suggests that tropical trees once grew in the region. An article published by the Huffington Post earlier this month explained how the recent discovery of wood fossils suggests that Antarctica was once home to carpeted forests.

Let’s rewind 250 million years to the Permian and early Triassic period. The world was alot warmer than it is today, so the idea may not be that foreign. The question, said Patricia Ryberg, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, is how plants coped with photosynthesizing constantly for part of the year and then not at all when the winter sun set. Since Antarctica was still at high latitude, the region experienced round-the-clock darkness in the winter and 24/7 light in the summer.

A fossilized tree trunk protrudes through ice near Antarctica’s Mount Achernar. | Patricia Ryberg

Ryberg and her colleagues gathered samples of leaf impressions and discovered mats of leaves, implying signs of a deciduous forest. What’s interesting about that finding is that samples of fossil wood were also taken and tree rings were examined to reveal that the trees looked evergreen.   “Now we have leaves that suggest a deciduous habit and fossil wood that is suggesting an evergreen habit, so we have a bit of a contradiction going on,” Ryberg said.

Follow-up studies analyzing carbon molecules in the fossil wood also gives both deciduous and evergreen answers, Ryberg said. The implication is that ancient Antarctic forests may have been a mix of deciduous and evergreen.

Tropical trees growing in the Arctic? Not so unusual after all.

Your questions about fall planting answered!

 Is it better to plant in spring or fall?

Both seasons can be effective times to plant your trees and shrubs. A great benefit of planting treeplanting in the fall is that tree roots remain active throughout the winter, taking advantage of moisture from rain or snow. Trees planted during this season get a nice head start on establishing themselves in the spring through vigorous root elongation and a flush of twig growth. Keep in mind that some plants, such as blueberries, blackberries and grapes, have the best chance of growing up strong and healthy when planted in the spring.

What are some tips for planting in the fall?  

  • If you cannot plant immediately due to adverse weather conditions, you may store your trees for up to 5 days. If storing your trees for longer than 5 days please follow the instructions for Heeling in Your Trees.
  • Avoid planting your trees in pots, if possible.
  • When you plant in the fall, be sure to mulch with wood chips, straw or other material to reduce alternate freezing and thawing that can result in “frost heaving.”
  • Avoid using fertilizer, potting soil or root starter, as they may be detrimental to the health of your new trees.

I’m ordering natural root trees…are they watering image croppedok to plant this late in the season?

Planting trees in late fall is well worth some cold hands! To be sure that your trees arrive in a strong and healthy condition, nurseries will usually ship “natural root” or “bare root” stock only when it is dormant in the fall season. Trees will only go dormant after a few hard frosts, so it’s necessary to wait until then to be able to ship them safely.

But it’s cold! Are the trees able to survive the weather?

As long as a spade can be inserted into the ground, it is okay to plant the trees. In other words, you may plant your trees until the ground is completely frozen solid—so until you can safely ice skate or ice fish on your local lakes or ponds, planting your dormant trees is just fine.

What can I do to prepare for my trees’ arrival?

  • Pre-dig your holes now, so when your trees do arrive you are prepared to immediately get them in the ground.
  • Store the dirt you removed from the hole in a garage or tool shed where it will not get as cold. Left outside, it may harden and prove more difficult to work with once the time comes to plant.
  • mulchPre-purchase mulch, as some stores may not have as large of a mulch supply in their inventories as the season progresses—you want to make sure you’ve got plenty of mulch on hand for your newly planted trees once they arrive!

Happy planting!

(Note: If you live in Hardiness Zone 6, you may still order trees from the Arbor Day Tree Nursery until November 19. If you live in Zone 7, 8, or 9 you may order until November 26 and still receive your order this shipping season. Hardiness Zones 0-5 are currently being shipped.)