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.

One tree, two trees, my trees are small trees!

Planting in small areas can be challenging, especially if you want to add some height to your landscape. Consider adding small trees that will excite your senses!

Small trees are perfect for any landscape and add color to entry ways, curbs, and long sidewalks. These small trees are sure to standout and add charm next to your home every spring and some even all year round! Continue reading to discover which small trees have caught our interest.

Smoketree_1-920The mutli-stemmed smoketree holds true to its name- growing blooms that are wispy clumps of filaments. This easy-to-grow specimen turns a smoky pink color from June through August. Growing 10’ to 15’, it is a good choice for a shrub border or other grouping.

Ann-Magnolia_1-860The ann magnolia is a member of the “Little Girl” group of hybrid magnolias developed in the mid-50s at the U.S. National Arboretum. Its profusion of deep purple-red blossoms resemble tulips and bloom in mid-to late March.  Sometimes, the tree blooms again in the summer. At maturity, the Ann magnolia grows to a height of 8’ to 10’.

Japanese-Red-Maple_1-866After 300 years of cultivation, the Japanese red maple is still a beloved tree. It offers a warm touch of red to any yard in the spring and fall, and features a green summer leaf. Red, winged seeds attract squirrels, chipmunks, quail and songbirds. This taller landscape tree matures to about 15’ to 25’.

Purpleleaf-Sand-Cherry_1-816Purpleleaf sand cherry  tree‘s year-round beauty and smaller size makes it an excellent choice for landscaping. Its fragrant white and pink flowers blossom in spring while featuring simple leaves with an intense reddish-purple color. The small yields of plump red berries are an important food source for small birds and mammals including robins and cardinals. The Purpleleaf matures to 15’ to 25’.

Downy-Serviceberry_1-919A phenomenal large shrub that can be trained into a single trunk tree is the downy serviceberry. The combination of flowers, vibrant fall foliage and wildlife value will add lots of visual enjoyment to your yard. This wonderful little tree reaches 15′ to 25′ at maturity and produces plump red berries for pies, preserves and fresh eating.

Did your favorite small tree make the list? If not, share your favorite in the comments!

Before you start planting, get helpful tips and information on tree care, and to find out which trees grow best in each hardiness zone. You can find all of these trees and more in our Tree Nursery. Get a discount on all of your trees when you become an Arbor Day Foundation member.

Inviting all butterflies! Create an oasis designed for them!

It is no coincidence that every time you see a butterfly, a smile stretches across your face. They are exquisite flutters of color that glide flower to flower-pollinating plants around them.  If you find yourself wanting to invite butterflies into your garden, keep reading to find out what trees and shrubs they are attracted to!

Butterflies feel welcome almost anywhere, but only if you know what they are looking for – sources of food, shelter and water. Trees and shrubs bear fruit, nuts and berries while also offering shelter and breeding places.

The best way to attract butterflies to your garden is to start with a variety of flowering and fruit trees and shrubs. We recommend choosing a mixture of both prolific bloomers and those that have a long bloom time. Butterflies attracted to the following recommendations include American lady, silvery blue, zebra swallowtail, Compton tortoiseshell, and northern pearly eye- some containing more specific species.

zebra swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail by Shenandoah National Park

sweetbay magIn spring, sweetbay magnolias produce a profusion of creamy white flowers that carry a light lemon scent. Working well as a patio tree, it flowers best in full sun exposure and yields clusters of red fruit. Sweetbay magnolias attract different types of butterflies such as the tiger and zebra swallowtail.

silvery blue
Silvery Blue by Brad Smith

 

eastern redbudMany butterflies visit the eastern redbud because it is one of the earliest trees to bloom in the spring. A few species that are drawn to it include silvery blue, zebra swallowtail and dreamy duskywing. Its nectar and pollen attract butterflies necessary for a small healthy orchard or a vegetable garden.

white

White Admiral by Brad Smith

pink dogwoodThe pink dogwood blooms in April and May and produces a glossy red fruit that ripen in the fall.  The blossoms attract butterflies such as the American snout, white admiral and banded hairstreak.

american lady

American Lady by John Flannery

‘Blue Chip is one of the many butterfly bushes but has some unique characteristics – namely its noninvasive behavior and compact size. Sweetly scented flowers continuously bloom from midsummer through fall-attracting all types of butterflies like the American Lady. This butterfly bush is perfect for landscaping along a pathway, too.bluechip

Welcome these lovely friends into your garden by offering what they need. Visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Nursery to find more variety of trees and shrubs, perfect for your butterfly oasis. Get a discount on all of your trees when you become an Arbor Day Foundation member.

Soak it in! Designing your own rain garden is easy

Have you been thinking about adding a rain garden to your landscaping? Well, this is the perfect time! In spring, the soil is softer to dig and the rainy weather contributes to the initial watering. Rain gardens are a beautiful way to enhance your landscape both visually and sustainably — benefiting everyone. So let’s get started!

Raingarden buildA rain garden is a garden in a shallow depression made to naturally gather and filter rain water -designed to temporarily collect storm water runoff from roofs, driveways, walkways, patios, and lawns. Once the water is collected, it percolates down into the soil, which is then absorbed by trees, shrubs and other plants – cleaning the water of pollutants such as pesticides and fertilizers. Rain gardens are also a natural habitat for butterflies, birds and beneficial insects. We call that a win-win!

When choosing a rain garden site, first, decide where the rain garden will be filtering storm water from such as a downspout, driveway or sump pump. This area should receive water regularly from its source during a rainstorm. Also, make sure to choose a garden site that is at least 10 feet away from building foundations and septic system to avoid storm water from leaking into these areas.

Determine your hardiness zone before picking out your trees and shrubs. Knowing which hardiness zone you live in will clarify which trees will grow properly in your area. Also, select plants that will add beauty but also have the ability to thrive in wet areas. Find information on trees and shrubs through the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Guide.

Sweetbay MagnoliaOne recomendation we have for your design is the sweetbay magnolia, thriving in zones 5-9. Its creamy white flowers have a light lemon scent and are visible in late spring and early summer. Bright scarlet-red seeded fruit ripens in the fall attracting a variety of songbirds.

Redosier DogwoodAnother colorful choice is the redosier dogwood. It has a wide range of tolerance except for extremely dry conditions. Its fibrous root system provides effective erosion control on banks and slopes. The shrub also has vibrant red stems that remain in winter-adding color all year round in zones 2-7.

Another bird-friendly option is the prairifire flowering crabapple. Long-lasting spring blossoms add variety and color to the year-round beauty it offers. Withstanding climates in zones 3-8, this ornamental is disease-resistant and able to adapt to many different conditions.Flowering Crabapple

In the final steps of designing a rain garden, dig the desired area and arrange the spacing of plants according to their directions.  Mulch the area with woodchips that won’t float away and apply so it is two to three inches deep. Remember to water!

Most importantly, while your plants are soaking in the water, you can soak in the splendor you have just created! Visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Nursery to find a wide variety of trees and shrubs, perfect for your rain garden. Get a discount on all of your trees when you become an Arbor Day Foundation member.

Fast Growing Trees

Fast growing trees are becoming more and more popular. The reason being, home owners get to enjoy the benefits of a mature tree sooner. Fast growing trees are especially great when landscaping. Some act as quick solutions to privacy and others as shade trees.

Let’s take a closer look at six fast growing trees available in the Arbor Day Foundation Tree Nursery.

weeping willowFirst, is the weeping willow. Depending on the cultivar, weeping willow trees can grow from 3’ to 8’ per year, making it one of the fastest of the fast growing trees.  Often seen as one of the first indications of spring, the weeping willow’s yellow twigs and green foliage appear early in the season—sometimes as early as February.

Quaking aspen quaking aspen has the widest natural range of any tree in North America- fit for zones 1-7.  The name stems from how it adds movement and a soft, pleasant sound to the landscape due to the “quaking” leaves. It grows 40’ to 50’ with a 25’ spread and averaging 2’ to 3’ per year. It has stunning golden-yellow foliage in the fall to accompany its iconic white bark.

red mapleRed maple stays true to its name by featuring something red all year round-—buds in winter, flowers in spring, leafstalks in summer, and brilliant red or yellow foliage in autumn. Homeowners are growing this favorite across the Unites States because of its tolerance to a wide range of soils and deer resistant bark.

green giant arborvitaeThe green giant arborvitae  is large and vigorous. This is an exceptional landscape tree for use as a screen, hedge or single specimen. Once established, it is resistant to wind and can withstand heavy ice or snow, making it a good choice for a natural windbreak. Arborvitae provides nesting sites and cover for birds and small animals. The flower buds, seeds and foliage are a food source, although this cultivar has greater resistance to deer browsing than most arborvitae.

tuliptreeTuliptree features aromatic stems, bright green leaves, and cup-shaped flowers, which bloom in May and June. It grows well in a variety of soils and reaches heights between 70’ and 90’. Tuliptree seeds, maturing in summer and persisting into winter, provide food for both birds and mammals, including finches, cardinals, quail, mice, rabbits, and squirrels.

river birchRiver birch as its name suggests, naturally grows alongside river banks but can be grown almost anywhere in the United States. Features include being the most borer-resistant birch, works well for holding stream banks, and control erosion.

When planted properly, these trees will grow strong, healthy, and tall. Get helpful tips and information on tree care, and to find out which trees grow best in each hardiness zone.

You can find all of these trees and more in our Tree Nursery. Get a discount on all of your trees when you become an Arbor Day Foundation member.

Did your favorite fast growing tree make the list? If not, share your favorite tree in the comments!

Howard Neukrug, Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Philadelphia Water

howard_neukrugPhiladelphia, a Tree City USA community for nearly four decades, is where Howard Neukrug presides at Philadelphia Water. Howard Neukrug is a leader in recognizing the importance of trees to a healthy watershed and to clean drinking water in our cities. Howard serves as the commissioner and chief executive officer of Philadelphia Water — where he’s long enjoyed collaboration with an incredibly strong team — on the U.S. EPA National Drinking Water Advisory Council, and as Vice Chairman of the U.S. Water Alliance.

In 2002, as watershed program director for Philadelphia Water, Howard, with partnership support and contributions from the U.S. Forest Service, completed an urban ecosystem analysis for the Philadelphia metropolitan area which illustrated that the loss of tree canopy cover has a detrimental impact on water quality.

His initiative led to the funding and maintenance of natural areas, and with the leadership of then Mayor and later Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, TreeVitalize was established in 2004, through which tens of thousands of trees were strategically planted.

Venice Island Pump house_ Paul FugazzottoNeukrug, with the vital support of city agencies, and public and private partners, helped to create Green City, Clean Waters (GCCW), a comprehensive, community enhancing green stormwater management plan that boosts the sustainability and greening goals of Philadelphia’s overarching Greenworks Plan. GCCW’s Green Streets component uses trees to supplement the work of traditional storm drains to manage street runoff, resulting in newly tree lined streets. GCCW trees are multi-taskers as they manage stormwater, enhance air quality, improve property values and beautify Philadelphia neighborhoods

“GCCW is the single largest green stormwater infrastructure program in the nation,” Neukrug noted. “But the realization of the program – and its daily implementation – is achieved through the passion and dedication of Philadelphia Water’s own Office of Watersheds, and the strong partnership and leadership provided by our sister agencies – Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation and Office of Sustainability.  It is a pleasure and honor to have such steadfast support.”

Phil Rodbell, Urban Forestry Program Specialist at the U.S. Forest Service, said, “Howard’s work on the ground and in the halls of government on behalf of trees, watersheds, and green infrastructure has shined a new light on Philadelphia as a livable and lovable city, once again.”

Porous Asphalt Parking Lot with Green Gutter and Vegetated Basin at Salvation Army_Louis_Cook_for_PWDAs Howard says, “Trees are not going to solve our problem, but they are part of our toolbox. People tend to like trees more than sewers, if you give them a choice.”

For leading the way in planting and protecting the urban and community forest and ensuring clean, safe drinking water, Howard Neukrug is the recipient of the 2015 Excellence in Urban Forestry Leadership Award. This year’s Arbor Day Award ceremony will be held at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, located at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday, April 25.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

Jerry Brown, Governor, State of California

Sacramento, a Tree City USA community, is known as the “Tree Capital of the World.” It’s also where Governor Jerry Brown presides as the leader of California state government.

DT Sacramento CAGovernor Brown has played a key role in establishing community forestry in California.  During his first term, The Urban Forestry Act of 1978 created an urban forestry program through state law, allowing California’s Depart of Forestry and Fire Protection – also known as Cal Fire –  to “implement a program in urban forestry to encourage better tree management and planting in urban areas.”

Since again becoming Governor in 2011, Brown has continued his legacy leading to historic funding levels for California’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

In 2012, Assembly Bill 1492 provided the first and only sustainable revenue source in support of urban forestry — up to 30 million dollars annually.

In 2013, Brown put his stamp on a Three-Year Investment Plan that highlights urban forestry as an investment area for greenhouse gas reductions, improved public health, and environmental justice.

Gov Jerry Brown

California Governor Jerry Brown with his father, Edmund “Pat” Brown, Governor of California from 1959 to 1967, at Echo Summit/Desolation Wilderness

Always steadfast to his commitment to support urban forestry, Brown signed a state budget on June 20, 2014 containing 17.8 million dollars for Cal Fire’s Urban and Community Forestry Program – the largest one-year, single-state allocation for urban forestry in the entire history of the United States.

Governor Brown continues to highlight the value of community forests, noting, “Trees provide shelter for us and birds and wildlife. They give us shade and conserve our soil. We harvest fruit from trees and at the same time enjoy their beauty. We plant trees not only for the benefit of this generation but as our gift to posterity.”

As Jerry Brown enters his fourth and final term as Governor of California, the future of urban forestry is bright.  Through Governor Brown’s actions, California has a successful Urban and Community Forestry Program, a tax to support it, and a revenue source to support greenhouse gas reduction projects and benefit disadvantaged communities.  Governor Jerry Brown is indeed a true Champion of Trees.

California Governor Jerry Brown is the recipient of the 2015 Champion of Trees Public Service Award. This year’s Arbor Day Award ceremony will be held at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, located at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday, April 25.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

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Emi Lutz, Bellevue, Washington

Emi LutzHigh School senior Emi Lutz of Bellevue, Washington — a Tree City USA community — compiled a guide to the plants of Lewis Creek Park with great enthusiasm. The guide was Emi’s senior project and part of Bellevue’s Well Kept Program, offered by the city’s Parks and Community Services DepartmentNatural Resources Division.

The 85-page, full-color guide highlights plants ranging from the Douglasfir to the slough sedge. More importantly, the experience stimulated Emi’s conservation ethic and led her to the University of Washington where she is studying for a career as a biologist.

Emi Lutz Bk“Through working in the Well Kept Program and leading nature walks with residents, I realized that I enjoyed sharing my interest and knowledge of the outdoors and trees with others,” said Emi.

The Well Kept Program offers summer park employment that teaches life skills, provides environmental education, and instills young people with self-esteem and good work habits. This opportunity and support from the Bellevue’s Parks and Community Services Department provided Emi with the training and experience that helped forge her current academic and eventual career path.

Emi Lutz Group“It was fun to teach both kids and adults and watch them learn and start caring for the environment,” she adds.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

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#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!

RonDell Pooler, Washington, District of Columbia

Rondell PoolerRonDell Pooler, a resident of the Tree City USA recognized community of Washington, D.C., leveraged a valuable training opportunity when he registered with DC Green Corps, a green jobs program that provides career training and guidance for underemployed Washington residents. DC Green Corps training focuses on new tree planting and maintenance, park management, and volunteer supervision.

As part of the program, RonDell participated in a 12-week training course supported by the District of Columbia Department of Transportation’s Urban Forest Administration and the U.S. Forest Service.

DC CorpsNow a proud graduate of DC Green Corps, RonDell works for a nonprofit organization leading volunteer projects, monitoring trees and park conditions, and supervising trainees.

“Forestry programs have had a great impact, not only by giving me a job but real skills,” said RonDell. “It has also helped me become more conscious of the community and my neighborhood.”

The generous support from the D.C. Urban Forest Administration and the U.S. Forest Service helped to make this successful program possible, and provided the valuable opportunity to encourage local community forestry leaders like RonDell Pooler to engage in the active stewardship of Washington’s trees now and into the future.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

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