Rain Forest Rescue in Madagascar is Saving More Than Forests, it is Saving the Lemurs

toucanTropical rain forests are home to half of the world’s plants and animals, and a source of food, medicines and other plant-based products that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. But according to the California Institute of Technology, about 2,000 trees per minute are cut down in rain forests, destroying natural habitat and displacing wildlife.

Rain forest deforestation affects us all. Approximately 25% of all medicines on the market today come from plants found only in tropical rain forests including treatments for a variety of cancers, malaria and multiple sclerosis. Additionally, deforestation leads to the growing extinction of many species, such as the adorable lemurs.

BW Lemur

Black and white ruffed lemurs provide an ecological service by aiding fruit seed germination through digestion of seed coatings.

Lemurs are small primates found exclusively in the forests of the island nation of Madagascar. As much as 80% of Madagascar’s forests have been destroyed, leading to a diminishing population of rare species. Lemurs are unique because they play a key role in the future of trees.  Ninety percent of a lemur’s diet is fruit. As a result of their diet, lemurs eat frequently and process their meals more rapidly.

What does this have to do with trees? The seeds left behind from a lemur’s meal have their coatings removed, allowing for germination in the forest. In fact, the germination rate of seeds processed by lemurs is nearly 100 percent, compared to only 5 percent of unprocessed (or coated) seeds. Lemurs not only live off of the forest, but they’re replanting it too.

lemur disperser
Lemurs are the primary seed disperser of the Madagascar’s eastern rain forest at Sangasanga Mountain.

 The Arbor Day Foundation and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium joined forces to advance the reforestation efforts led by the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership in Kianjavato, Madagascar by planting hundreds of thousands of trees to restore habitat. In 2009, the lemur population at Sangasanga Mountain was only eight. As of 2015 the population increased to six times what it was, with a lemur population of fifty! The impact of the reforestation effort in Madagascar has helped more than just the forest; it is helping bring back a species from the brink of extinction.

Saving an endangered animal such as the lemur comes from the help of Arbor Day Foundation members through programs such as Rain Forest Rescue. Thanks to the support of members, the Arbor Day Foundation is able to help restore the forests of Madagascar and provide habitat to save the endangered lemurs. Additionally, the reforestation effort is improving the economy and living conditions of the local people through jobs in tree nurseries and on the mountain sides planting those trees.

If we’re able to increase the lemur population by six times on one mountain top in Madagascar, imagine what we can accomplish on the rest of the island. Tropical rain forests contain more species than any other ecosystem on Earth, yet are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Check out our latest Rain Forest Rescue Report  to see the other impacts our replanting efforts leave.

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Glendale, AZ

Glendale has been a designated Tree City USA community for 19 years.

Glendale AZ

Flickr | N1D0

Home to more than 230,000 residents, Glendale is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. With 40 miles of hiking trails and acres of parks, the city drives you to explore the outdoors. Don’t let the warm, dry climate discourage you from being outdoors, as you can take shade under any of the city’s 21,000 public trees. Glendale is also the home of two major sports venues: University of Phoenix Stadium and Gila River Arena.

Although Glendale is situated in the desert, it still places an importance on urban forestry. Glendale saves $116,728 in energy costs every year, and intercepts an approximate 1 million gallons of stormwater runoff annually equating to a saving of $37,000 in stormwater management costs. In addition, the trees in the city increase property value by $467,213, benefits that property owners enjoy.

Glendale’s urban forest provides more than $660,000 in economic benefits to the community.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Louisville Metro, KY

Louisville Metro has been a designated Tree City USA community for 15 years and Growth Award recipient seven times.

Louisville KYHome to more than 750,000 residents, as well as the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Fried Chicken, Louisville is a Southern gem filled with American history and unique charm. The city also features the largest preservation historic district entirely of Victorian architecture in the country.

In addition to its cultural attractions, Louisville boasts an impressive urban forest with 37% tree canopy coverage. Louisville’s trees intercept more than 18.8 billion gallons of stormwater runoff annually, equating to nearly $63 million in stormwater management savings, and remove 6.9 million pounds of pollutants from the air annually.

Furthermore, the urban forest saves consumers $5 million in energy savings and increases property value by nearly $240 million a year.

The benefits Louisville’s urban forest provides to the city equate to approximately $330 million annually.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids has been a designated Tree City USA community for 17 years and Growth Award recipient twice.

Grand Rapids MIHome to nearly 200,000 people and five of the world’s leading furniture-manufacturing centers, Grand Rapids is also a major lumber and forest products center. Grand Rapids understands the importance of sustainable forestry to its economy, and values its urban forest, boasting 1.3 million trees equating to tree canopy coverage of 34%.

In addition to its industrial culture, the city offers tourist attractions such as the Van Andel Museum Center— one of the oldest history museums in the United States— and Blandford Nature Center. You can feel comfortable exploring Grand Rapids knowing that the city’s tree canopy produces an estimated 13,700 tons of oxygen per year. Additionally, it removes 236 tons of pollution saving $5.34 million a year in air filtration costs. The urban forest also lowers energy costs by $650,000 a year as a result of the shade produced by the trees.

Grand Rapid’s urban forest has a structural value of $791 million.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Baltimore, MD

Baltimore has been designated a Tree City USA community for 31 years and awarded the  Growth Award 14 times.

Baltimore MDBaltimore is home to more than 600,000 residents, and adorned with more than 2.8 million trees throughout the city.  Harboring the second largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic, Baltimore also boasts a vibrant cultural arts scene.

In addition to the arts, the city offers an array of outdoor activities including the Cylburn Arboretum, so you can brush up on your tree knowledge as you discover this city park. The arboretum isn’t the only place Baltimore houses trees; the city has a current canopy of 27% with a goal to reach 40% tree canopy coverage.

Baltimore’s urban canopy saves the city $3.3 million in energy costs and removes 700 tons of air pollution annually, totaling $3.8 million in air filtration cost savings. The benefits provided by the urban forest are so great that it has a replacement value of $3.4 billion.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Charleston, SC

Charleston has been designated a Tree City USA community for 34 years and awarded the  Growth Award once.

Charleston SCWith a population nearing 130,000 people, Charleston’s southern charm and rich history attract thousands of visitors every year. In 2011 Travel + Leisure named Charleston “America’s Most Friendly” city, and in 2013 & 2014, Conde Nast Traveler ranked Charleston the #1 city in the US. This Southern city offers numerous outdoor sports, and great cuisine options. In addition to its tourist attractions, Charleston also places emphasis on its urban forestry with more than 15,244 public trees inventoried and maintained by the city, in addition to 35,000 trees located in parks and open spaces.

Angel Oak Tree

Angel Oak Tree, Flickr Jameel Winter

In addition to the city’s American history, Charleston also holds some of the country’s richest tree history, including the Angel Oak tree— estimated to be more than 1,400 years old— as well as Magnolia Plantation & Gardens.

So just how do these trees benefit the city? Charleston’s urban forest saves $171,406 in stormwater management costs and accumulates energy savings of $120,991. Additionally, the urban forest removes 6,104 pounds of pollutants from the air annually.

Charleston’s urban forest provides benefits to the city valued at $717,034.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Wilmington, DE

Wilmington has been designated a Tree City USA community for 22 years and awarded the  Growth Award four times.

Wilmington DEHome to 70,000 residents, Wilmington is a warm community situated at the confluence of the Christina River and Brandywine Creek. Despite its modest size, Wilmington places importance on its urban forestry program, with more than 136,000 trees throughout the city and 16% tree canopy coverage.

Wilmington has a fair ethnic population, contributing to its cultural diversity. You can attend a number of cultural festivals in the summer including Italian, Greek, Polish, or African and enjoy traditional music, food, and activities.  While roaming downtown you’ll appreciate that Wilmington’s urban forest removes 45 tons of air pollutants a year, saving the city $291,000 in air filtration costs. In addition, the city’s trees reduce energy costs by $183,000 annually.

Wilmington’s urban forest has a structural value of $166 million.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach has been designated a Tree City USA community for 35 years and awarded the  Growth Award twice.

VA Beach VAHome to more than 400,000 residents, Virginia Beach is a resort city attracting tourists to its miles of beaches and outdoor activities. If you’re ever visiting you may spend your evenings watching outdoor entertainment or enjoying any of the numerous art museums. The city is taking initiative in its urban forestry, with more than three million trees scattered throughout, comprising a 36% tree canopy coverage. The city continues to improve its greenery; it has set a goal to reach 45% canopy coverage during the next 20 years.

In addition, Virginia Beach’s urban forest removes nearly 900 tons in air pollution saving the city $4.5 million in air filtration costs. Rainy days aren’t a problem, as the city’s trees save more than $1.5 million in stormwater management. The city’s urban forest has increased property value by $109.5 million annually.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Providence, RI

Providence has been designated a Tree City USA community for 28 years and awarded the  Growth Award twice.

Providence, RIHome to more 180,000 people, Providence is one of the oldest cities in the United States, offering a bit of historic charm mixed with modern culture. The city is branding itself as a creative hub with a thriving arts community, diverse architecture, and notable universities, including the Rhode Island School of Design.

Providence is also setting an example in its urban forestry. The city has 415,000 trees with 24% tree canopy coverage. Additionally, the urban forest removes 91 tons of air pollutants every year, saving $3.5 million in air filtration costs.

The urban forest also comes in hand during times of rainfall, intercepting 31.5 million gallons of stormwater runoff, saving $281,000 in stormwater management costs. Additionally, the city boasts $591,000 in annual energy savings.

Providence’s urban forest is an asset valued at $582 million.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque has been designated a Tree City USA community for 16 years and awarded the  Growth Award twice.

Albuquerque NMHome to 550,000 residents, Albuquerque is a city fused with western flare and modern culture.  Despite its arid desert climate, Albuquerque manages to stay green, encompassing more than 1.5 million trees with 13% tree canopy coverage. The city also fosters a healthy lifestyle; a 2007 March issue of Men’s Fitness listed Albuquerque as the fittest city in the United States. Residents are certainly making the most of the city’s 361 parks.

In addition to healthy people, Albuquerque also produces healthy air, removing 366 tons of air pollutants annually, saving $1.1 million in air filtration costs. Contrary to desert stereotypes, the city receives rainfall; in fact the urban forest intercepts 11.1 million gallons of stormwater runoff annually, saving $3.42 million in stormwater management costs. On top of that, the city saves as much as $3.76 million in energy costs.

Albuquerque’s urban forest is an asset valued at $1.93 billion.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!