Community Tree Recovery: How to Get Involved

 

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.

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Volunteers work together to replant a tree in the Oklahoma Tree Recovery Campaign.

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:

Local Level

  • City Forester
  • City Manager

County Level

  • County Forester
  • County Judge

State Level

  • State Forester
  • Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator
Girls Celebrating and Planting

A group of girls help replant trees as part of the Kentucky Tree Recovery Campaign.

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.

Urban Forestry Plan is Key to Weathering the Storm

Let’s face it: no one likes to think about natural disasters, with their potential for devastation of our homes, neighborhoods, communities, and livelihoods. We’ve shared on this blog before about some of the communities hit hardest in recent years by natural disasters, and told the inspiring stories of citizens returning hope and healing to the places they call home.

Even still, there’s simply no way around it. Natural disasters are a fact of life.

When a natural disaster strikes a community, trees are invariably involved and many

Photo credit: Urban Forest Strike Team.

Photo credit: Urban Forest Strike Team.

times on the losing end of the event. Using the framework of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program, sound urban forestry management has proven essential to loss prevention and recovery of our treasured trees.

The scientific consensus is that climate change is occurring and that, in many cases, it is making natural disasters worse. Any planning to mitigate disasters should also include planning to reduce human-caused acceleration or magnification of climate change.

According to a survey by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, nearly three-quarters of U.S. cities are now seeing environmental shifts that can be linked to climate change. More than 1,000 city leaders have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to strive to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol targets in their communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A healthy canopy of trees plays an important role in this effort. Trees need to be considered a vital part of every city’s infrastructure – right alongside the bridges, roads, sewers, electrical, and telecommunication grids – and appreciated for the natural workhorses that they are. For proof, one need not look further than the great role trees play in taming stormwater runoff during and immediately following natural disasters.

Sound urban forestry management through the framework of the Tree City USA program has been proven to be essential time and again. In fact, green infrastructure is the only part of a city’s infrastructure that actually increases in value and service over time.

Whether for preventative measures or recovery efforts, here are four key ideas your community needs for the best possible outcomes:

  • Communities with an established budget for tree care are in a better position than those that must compete for grants or appropriations. If your community is a recognized TreeCity USA, your community allocates the standard minimum of $2 per capita in a community forestry program.
  • Be prepared with an emergency management plan – and even better if it specifically includes a storm contingency plan. Unfortunately, it’s likely not a matter of IF you’ll need it, but rather WHEN you will.
  • Take time to “get it right” after a disaster. As in most things, it’s far better to move slowly with deliberate, well thought-out decisions and wise judgment than to rush into hasty action. This is particularly important when considering where reconstruction efforts will take place across a community and where trees should be replaced.
  • Lean on the expertise of your local tree board and their extensive list of contacts. These people will be an invaluable resource when it comes time to actually do the work of replanting trees.

For more information on best practices and ways your community can recover from natural disasters, see Tree City USA Bulletin #68.

Donate Now: Plant trees where they’re needed most.