Every year, natural disasters strike communities throughout the United States. Over the past three years, FEMA has declared over 256 individual domestic disasters. These disasters not only affect the people and the infrastructure of the affected communities, but also affect the natural environment as well. The loss of trees is a major component to this devastation, and is far more than meets the eye.
Trees play a vital role in our everyday lives and are often overlooked until they are no longer there. Trees help clean the water we drink, and improve the quality of the air we breathe. They provide natural spaces for our children to play, and food for a multitude of wildlife to eat. For many people, trees invoke memories of childhood climbing or apple picking. Residents of disaster-stricken areas often talk about the void they feel after their trees have been destroyed. These reasons demonstrate how important it is to restore those lost trees after a natural disaster.
If a disaster strikes your state or community, once the initial needs of the people are met there are numerous ways to jump start the process of tree recovery. Many groups and organizations are invested in the health of your urban tree canopy and can provide you guidance on what sort of specific response your community may need. A good first step would be to reach out to one of the following leaders at your local, county or state level:
- City Forester
- City Manager
- County Forester
- County Judge
- State Forester
- Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator
These leaders will be able to direct you towards future tree plantings efforts as your community continues to recover. You can also research local non-profit tree planting organizations. Local organizations are great advocates for communities and often have connections to a wide network of organizations who may also want to get involved. Alliance for Community Trees—a program of the Arbor Day Foundation—is a great resource to finding potential non-profits in your area; access the list here.
The Community Tree Recovery program is another way to start discussions on tree recovery in your area. The program focuses on getting trees back into the hands of homeowners following natural disasters. We partner with state and local forestry partners to ensure that long-term tree recovery is a part of the overall recovery process for devastated communities.
We currently have 11 Community Tree Recovery campaigns helping restore communities back to their natural state before they were struck by natural disaster. You can donate online to a specific campaign, or to where the need for funding is greatest. Online donations to the Community Tree Recovery program can be completed here.
However you choose to get involved, replanting our urban tree canopy is an extremely important piece of the recovery process following a natural disaster. Beginning the process of replenishing trees will ensure that the next generation enjoys the natural beauty that once was. Don’t wait to get involved. Find out how you can help your community and state recover today.