The Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery campaigns have become an important resource to people affected by natural disasters. Since 2006, the Arbor Day Foundation has given nearly 1.6 million trees to people in communities recovering from natural disasters.
The size, scope and scale of Superstorm Sandy that pounded the eastern seaboard in October, 2012 was unprecedented.
Hurricane-force winds, storm-surge flooding, and salt water damage had a lethal effect on trees in many states, especially the “Garden State” of New Jersey, which lost millions of trees.
The people of New Jersey love their trees. Allison Fisher from Neptune Township remarked, “You know you’re so used to seeing something and then it’s not there. It’s like a missing puzzle piece.”
To accelerate the urgent replanting needed, and to begin bringing hope and healing to the people and communities in need, the Arbor Day Foundation and New Jersey Division of State Forestry Services launched the New Jersey Community Tree Recovery Campaign. This year, some 100,000 trees were given to residents at 97 events in 18 counties.
Bill Comery, long-time Paramus resident and that city’s former director of parks and forestry, has seen first-hand the hope and healing brought forth by the New Jersey Community Tree Recovery Campaign. Said Comery, “More and more communities are engaged. We are on the road to recovering our precious tree canopy, one tree at a time.” Comery personally witnessed the devastation that hit close to home – literally. “I woke up the morning after the storm and was very disheartened to see my prized scarlet oak damaged beyond repair,” he said. Comery’s scarlet oak was documented as the largest in the entire state of New Jersey. Comery continued, “The tree had provided canopy coverage to my entire home. After its loss, I noticed that I had to run the air conditioner a lot more, and completely alter my landscaping from full shade to full sun.”
Comery is replanting, having planted several trees including some of his favorite species of oak and beech. He concluded, “We need trees for all of the benefits that they provide. It’s very much a quality of life issue. Trees greatly improve the quality of life in a community. And now, more than ever, with the help of the Arbor Day Foundation and its Community Tree Recovery Campaign, we in New Jersey are taking care to plant the right tree in the right place and restoring our vibrant tree canopy.”
To foster diversity, 29 species were distributed as part of the New Jersey Community Tree Recovery Campaign: Oaks and pines. Spruces and firs. Basswood, beach plum, and bay berry. Black gum and black walnut. Bald cypress and sycamore. The list is long, the trees are beautiful, and their impact will last for generations. The plantings, which will continue, are a heroic response to a natural catastrophe—companies, municipalities, and volunteers taking action to bring green abundance back to their communities.
In the future, “super-storms” such as Sandy are likely to be more frequent as climate change continues unabated. It has been said regarding climate change that we need to avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable. The members and supporters of the Arbor Day Foundation share a simple, noble, and invaluable part of the solution: planting trees.
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