Celebrating Forests Today and Every Day

Did you know that today is the International Day of Forests, as proclaimed by the United Nations?

We may think we grasp the importance of rain forests throughout the world and temperate SONY DSCdeciduous forests in our country, but forests play a much larger role than many of us realize. Today marks the global celebration of forests. International Day of Forests sets to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests and trees outside of forests.

In the words of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “As we deliberate on the post-2015 development agenda, let us acknowledge the vital role of forests and pledge to work together to protect and sustainably manage these vital ecosystems.”

Consider these facts from the United Nations:

  • Forests cover 1/3 of the Earth’s land mass.
  • Approximately 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures –depend on forests for their livelihood. JaguarForests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest dependent communities.
  • Forests are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.
  • Forests play a key role in our attempt to adapt to and mitigating climate change. For example, they protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide.

Muir Woods, Mill Valley, CAYet, despite the vital role forests play in the ecological, economic and social realms of human and planetary existence, we continue to witness global deforestation at an alarming rate. According to the United Nations, deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Learn more about what the Arbor Day Foundation is doing to protect and replant our nation’s forests as well as forests throughout the world at www.arborday.org/replanting and www.arborday.org/programs/rainforest.

World Water Week: Trees Play a Significant Role

Mountain StreamTo celebrate World Water Week, organized by the Stockholm Water Institute, let’s talk trees and H₂0!

Trees and clean water go hand in hand. Trees—large rainforests and deciduous forests in particular—can play a significant role in the preservation, purification, and even production of this precious resource.

Forests help to:

-Filter and purify water

Forests provide natural filtration and storage systems that supply an estimated 75 percent of usable water globally… (nearly 2/3 of the water supply in the U.S.) One study estimates the value of water regulation and supply at $2.3 trillion globally.CIFOR

“Trees and forests improve stream quality and watershed health by decreasing the amount of storm water runoff and pollutants that reach local waters. They take up nutrients and pollutants from soils and water through their roots, and transform them into less harmful substances. Forests also maintain high water quality by minimizing soil erosion and reducing sediment.” -CIFOR

In the city of Victoria in the province of British Columbia, their forested watershed is so effective at purifying their drinking water, the only treatment they do is filtering for course debris and passing the water under a UV light. No chemicals are added to purify the water.” -CIFOR

-Manage stormwater and reduce severity of drought

“(Trees) allow rain water to percolate into the soil rather than rushing off carrying with it oil, metal particles and other pollutants. Below ground, roots hold the soil in place and absorb water that will eventually be released into the atmosphere by transpiration.” –Tree City USA Bulletin #55: How Trees Can Retain Stormwater Runoff

Forests act as giant sponges, soaking up rainfall during wet seasons and slowly releasing it during times of drought.” -CIFOR

“(Forests) could also help us to adapt to a changing climate and combat drought by influencing rainfall patterns…Tropical forests contribute to regulating river flows both during dry seasons and high rainfall events, thereby minimizing risks related to water scarcity and floods.” -CIFOR

-Maintain rainfall levels throughout the world

Air passing over vegetation produces about twice as much rain as that blowing across sparsely covered ground…In some cases these forests increased rainfall thousands of kilometers away.” –Leeds University study

A vast forest such as the Amazon is able to pump significant amounts of water into the atmosphere, promoting cloud formation and movement, even thousands of kilometers away…impacting rainfall patterns in other parts of the world.” -CIFOR

‘By better understanding this process, we may, one day, be able to strategically plant trees that will bring rain to regions that need it most,’ David Ellison from the Institute for World Economics said.” –CIFOR

Your Part

What can you do today?

Taking care of our earth’s major tree resources will play an ever-increasing role in the worldwide effort to maintain our water supply.

Every little bit helps—pure, clean water can start with you.

Sources:

 

What to do about Wildfires: Prevention vs. Combat

As the 2013 fire season continues, the costs of fighting wildfires have continued to increase. In 2012, fires consumed 40 percent of the Forest Service’s annual budget, compared to only 13 percent in 1991. Many factors have created these rising costs through the years, including worsened drought conditions, continued climate change, and an increased number of homes built near forested areas. These escalating expenses are proving to be so costly, that they are leaving less money for wildfire prevention.

 

Forest Fires

Drought conditions, climate change, and homes in traditionally forested areas have all contributed to the rising costs of fighting wildfires.

Due to these heightened factors, for fiscal 2014, the federal administration has proposed drastic spending cuts to hazardous fuels reduction, or clearing smaller trees and underbrush through controlled cutting and burns. The idea behind hazardous fuels reduction is that by removing this underbrush, fires will have less fuel to spread rapidly and can then be controlled faster. Donald Smurthwaite, spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center states, “In a recent study by the Bureau of Land Management, when wildfires burned into fuels treatment areas, they were slowed or stopped about 90 percent of the time. With the decline in fuels funding, we’re worried that saving money today will mean larger and more destructive fires tomorrow.” Limited funding has decreased fire prevention for several years. In 2009, 4.5 million acres were treated to prevent wildfires, and under the proposed budgetary cuts, fewer than 2 million acres would be treated in 2014.While the proposed budget for fiscal 2014 would increase overall funding for wildfires, it would largely cut the hazardous fuels budgets for several agencies. In all, 41 percent of these budgets would fall, reducing the current funds of $502 million to $297 million.  This will be the third consecutive year the administration’s proposed budget includes spending cuts to forest treatment to prevent wildfires. Many of these cuts will greatly affect our tree partners — the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

As an organization of people that cares deeply about our nation’s forests and trees, the Arbor Day Foundation continues to challenge ourselves to better understand how to collaborate with our partners on the ground as they overcome these budgetary hurdles.  There simply isn’t funding available as there has been in decades past, and that is where our valued members, supporters, corporate donors and partners can help us to heighten our efforts to do more with less. They can help us to see new ways to partner with these groups, to create even more relevant programs, and to provide trees to those areas most in need. As we address each new challenge, we search for ways to better engage our loyal members and tree advocates to keep them involved in the good work our partners accomplish each year with our support.

With the help and generosity of our vast network of tree advocates, we will continue to foster our enduring 25-year partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. With their help, the Arbor Day Foundation will continue to bring new ideas surrounding education, conservation, and tree planting in wildfire-stricken areas.

Two ways you can take action now:
The Backyard Woods Program: Managing Forests Can Save Forests
Donate now to replant trees where they’re needed most

Data cited in this post sourced from NBC News.
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Abbie Eisenhart is a Community Tree Recovery Manager for the Arbor Day Foundation.

Celebrating Global Tiger Day: July 29

Today – July 29 - is Global Tiger Day, a day for appreciating and celebrating all species of tigers worldwide. Unfortunately, this also means realizing their great decline in numbers due to poaching, habitat loss, and conflicts.

Tigers recline in their natural habitat. Image via National Geographic; photo credit: Steve Winter.

Tigers recline in their natural habitat. Image via National Geographic; photo credit: Steve Winter.

Did you know…trees and tigers go hand-in-hand. A majority of tigers’ natural habitats are made up of forests. Tropical, evergreen, temperate and snow-covered hardwood forests, along with mangrove swamps, are all home to various species of tiger.

Celebrate these beautiful creatures on Global Tiger Day — and every day — by raising awareness and supporting the preservation of their habitats.

Five facts about tigers from our friends at the World Wildlife Fund:

Tiger Ranges

This map shows the shrinking global range of tigers. Map copyright World Wildlife Fund.

1. In the last century alone, tigers have lost 93% of their historic range.

2. Continued large-scale habitat destruction and decimation of prey populations are the major long-term threats to the continued existence of tigers in the wild.3. Tiger habitat decreased by 45% in the last 10 years.

4. All tigers need dense vegetation, the presence of large ungulate prey, and access to water to be able to survive.

5. Tigers are found in a wide range of habitats in Asia and the Russian Far East, in increasingly fragmented and isolated populations.

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Coe Roberts is an Electronic Communication Specialist at the Arbor Day Foundation.

U.S. Forest Service says increased land use development threatens woodlands

Last month, the U.S. Forest Service released a comprehensive report on how increased population and land use development may threaten woodlands and their numerous benefits in the next 50 years.

According to the report, where regions choose to locate new residential and commercial development in the coming decades could have a big impact on the health of privately-owned forests, which we rely on to help provide clean drinking water, wildlife habit and outdoor recreation, among other benefits.

Forested land also helps remove pollutants from the air and sequester the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

While the amount of land currently under development or with the potential to be developed remains very small as a percentage of total U.S. land, many of the areas slated for building are both close to existing urban areas and likely to intersect with forests.

The report does not include policy recommendations, but it does point to areas where elected leaders may want to pursue a different course that betters conserves finite resources.

Most decisions about where to build rest with local governments, but their choices are heavily influenced by federal transportation, energy and housing policy. For example, a transition to more renewable fuels would reduce harmful emissions that put a strain on forests. More transportation options would ease traffic congestion and reduce the need for new highway construction. And, practical and affordable housing in more centralized locations would reduce the need for some new development in the outskirts of urban areas.

Local leaders may also begin to transition priorities themselves as their constituents advocate for woodlands and recreation for quality-of-life purposes.

How we allocate our land resources means a lot for America’s forests. With this report, policymakers and citizens can continue the discussion on how to best balance growth and conservation.

Enterprise to run ad during Olympics touting 50-Million Tree Pledge, partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation

When you tune in for the 2012 London Olympics starting tomorrow, keep an eye out for an advertisement from Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, that features their 50-Million-Tree Pledge.

The pledge is an aggressive, multi-year partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service to plant 50 million trees in high-need national and state forests. Nearly seven million trees have been planted so far.

The newly-planted trees are crucial to protecting wildlife habitat, recreational benefits and clean water for millions of Americans.

Enterprise has been one of the Foundation’s stand-out corporate partners, and we look forward to continuing the relationship for decades to come.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the company’s hometown newspaper, reported on the ad buy this week, noting that the spot is slated to run from July 27 through August 12, including during closing ceremonies.

The full story includes an early viewing of the 60-second spot, which contains gorgeous footage of national forests. A shorter 30-second spot will also be in rotation. Learn more about the 50-Million Tree Pledge here.

Record-breaking temperatures and drought increase risk of wildfires, highlight need for replanting

U.S. Forest Service and fire officials have now contained about 10 percent of the fast-moving and far-reaching wildfire that has burned through hundreds of square miles, primarily in Colorado and New Mexico.

According to CNN, hundreds of residents ordered to evacuate their homes in the Fort Collins area will be able to return this week:

“We’re gaining,” said Bill Hahnenberg, the U.S. Forest Service’s commander for the team battling the High Park wildfire, which has burned 46,600 acres in northern Colorado.

The last two summers have seen record fires throughout the country. Texas had the worst wildfire season on record in 2011, and the High Park fire that remains burning in Colorado has quickly become the second largest in the state’s history. Extended drought and high temperatures are up throughout the southwestern United States, according to the Washington Post.

The strain of fire damage is a key subject of the Arbor Day Foundation newest public-service announcement on Replanting Our National Forests. The message? Our precious natural resources depend upon us – not just to replant for lost and damaged forests, but to preserve the land for future generations.

The immediate objective is to make sure our fellow Americans in Colorado, New Mexico and adjacent states are safe and able to return to normalcy. Looking forward, we must remain committed to doing our part to support the future health of our forests. We hope you’ll be a partner with us in that continued effort.