Solving global issues through trees

Last month in Paris, hundreds of leaders including heads of state, corporate executives, scientists, government officials, and more, gathered at the 21st Session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 21). The goal for this Session was to discuss a global climate agreement where countries around the globe reduced their carbon emissions. The collaboration and partnership between individuals from countries all over the world illustrates the importance for each of us to address our impact on the environment.

How can trees and my daily habits change my carbon footprint?

At the Arbor Day Foundation, we work closely with companies and individuals who are seeking to positively address their impact on the environment. Whether it’s from carbon emissions or water usage, we all individually and collectively have a specific footprint that impacts our world. The good news is that by working with the Arbor Day Foundation we can create a positive effect through trees.

Arbor Day Foundation Programs:

Carbon offsetting – Carbon emissions are one of the largest contributors to climate change. Through reforestation in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, corporations and individuals can retire verified carbon credits for each “ton” of carbon they emit. This opportunity allows us to offset individually such as our car’s emissions, or offset air travel or heating bills.

The benefits of tree planting go far beyond sequestering carbon, it also creates jobs, restores vital wildlife habitats, and helps control flooding.

Watershed restoration – Strategically planting trees in impaired watersheds throughout the country has been proven to drastically change the water quality of these watersheds. Millions of Americans all over the country depend on trees to filter the water they use. This opportunity allows is to ensure that future generations will have clean water.

Ways to reduce your own Footprint:

  • Carpool or ride your bike to work
  • Turn off lights and appliances when leaving rooms
  • Wear clothes like jeans more often between washes
  • Moderate printing, better yet go paperless
  • Take shorter showers
  • Wash clothes in cold water

city smogThe meetings in Paris are a great reminder that whether or not you are reducing your footprint as a major corporation or in your own home, it is important to remember we all have a role and we all belong to something greater.

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Inside Diary of Dan Lambe: Journey Through Southeast Asia

Sa Wat Dee


Biking on Bang Kachao Island

That’s hello in Thai. Last month I spent a week traveling throughout Southeast Asia with leaders in international programs at the U.S. Forest Service and the Nature Conservancy to promote urban forestry programs in the region as we explore new program and partnership opportunities.

After a 30 hour journey I spent the first day touring lively Bangkok biking through the “Green Lung” of Bangkok, or Bang Kachao Island— an oasis encompassing 2,000 hectares of lush, green forest carved next to the city center. It was a nice escape from the chaos and smog of the Bangkok. Forest faculty from Kaestrat University showed us student projects they are managing that test new conservation strategies.

Day two proved to be even more insightful as we met with public and private leaders including the environmental director of The Asia Foundation and country director for Thailand who taught us more about their collaborations across Southeast Asia. We also met the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), a group that brings partners and cities together to combat climate change. Climate change is a hot topic in the region at the moment and opens the doors to the importance of urban forestry and the impact is has on both communities and climate. And that’s just what we did the following day.


City view of Bangkok

My last day in Thailand was filled with meetings with the Rockefeller Foundation and USAID—both big leaders of the resiliency efforts—where we engaged in high level discussions about the role trees play in climate change the challenges Southeastern Asian cities are facing. I left the meetings with a renewed energy to tackle on the rest of the week. Up next, Vietnam.

Climate change threatens the survival of older forests and trees

Much of the U.S. has been warmer in recent years, affecting not only which trees are right for planting, but also threatening the survival of older forests.

A Yale Environmental 360 article by Bruce Dorminey reported the giant sequoias native to California’s Sierra Nevada are facing the looming effects of declining snowpack and rising temperatures.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Giant sequoias are the world’s largest living species, reaching heights of 300 feet and girths as large as 150 feet. Dorminey wrote, “some sequoias can live in excess of 3,000 years before being naturally toppled by a combination of weather and gravity.”

Giant sequoias have evolved and thrived for multiple millenniums. The species may have survived previous eras of climate change but Dorminey says U.S. government and university researchers claim the long-term existence of these trees might now be endangered as a result of the changing Sierra Nevada mountain snowpack and current changes to the climate.

Less moisture and longer, warmer summers make it difficult for giant sequoias, especially the seedlings and young trees with smaller root systems, to survive.

The complex interaction of rising temperatures and shifts in snowmelt and precipitation is slowly altering and threatening environments where certain tree species have evolved and thrived.

Warmer temperatures also pose the threat of insect infestations which have already killed spruce and pine trees across more than 70,000 square miles of western North America.

Dorminey presented research showing how older forests and trees have proven to be at greater risk to the effects of climate change.

A recent study published in the journal Science found that trees ranging from 100 to 300 years old, located across a wide range of global landscapes, were experiencing rising death rates. This study and other research found that higher temperatures and drier conditions have played an important role in tree mortality and forest drought stress across the continents.

hardiness zoneYou can see how regional climates have changed over the past few years by visiting the Arbor Day Foundation’s U.S. Hardiness Zone map which was developed based upon data from 5,000 National Climatic Data Center cooperative stations across the continental U.S.


Long Beach, California, may include urban trees in cap-and-trade program

Long Beach, the seventh largest city in California, is a considering seeking carbon credits for the greenhouse gas offsetting power of its trees as part of the state’s new cap-and-trade program.

If successful, Long Beach officials would use the “carbon credits” to fund continued maintenance and care for the city’s existing trees, a major boost during a time of tight budgets. The Press-Telegram, a local newspaper, has reported that Long Beach faces a $17.2 million deficit and faces potential cuts to its tree care program of more than $200,000.

According to Reuters Point Carbon:

Long Beach Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske said Tuesday she will ask the city’s office of sustainability to review her proposal to enroll its urban forest as an offset project that can supply credits to California’s carbon market.

Planting and maintaining forests in urban areas is one of four ways emitters can offset their greenhouse gas output, according to California’s cap-and-trade regulations.

It is exciting to see communities find innovative ways to preserve their urban forests and mitigate the impact of climate change.

The full article is available here. Reuters notes that Santa Monica, a beachfront community also located in Southern California, has already made a similar request.

Photo Credit: City-Data