Arbor Day, that annual celebration of trees, is this Friday, April 27. Odds are you haven’t done much to mark the occasion since your grade-school days, when you might have brought home a seedling in a milk carton or planted a tree on the playground – but there are so many meaningful ways to make an impact.
Arbor Day was first observed in Nebraska in 1872, which might come as a surprise since this state’s landscape is perhaps best known for wind-swept plains. At that time, the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture approved a resolution to set aside a day for tree planting, and went so far as to offer prizes for the most prolific county and individual.Reasons for planting trees at that time focused on economic benefits, aesthetic beauty, and even a rudimentary understanding of climate benefits. It is estimated that one million trees were planted in that first year, and over time the event has become a nationwide and even global phenomenon.
It goes without saying that planting a water-smart tree in your own backyard can glean many benefits – including providing shade, cleaner air and water, and even increasing your property value. But what if you’re an apartment dweller or can’t fit another tree on your property? There are a multitude of nonprofit agencies that make a difference every day when it comes to trees across the globe – with so many unique choices, it’s easy to find a charity that fits your values for donations or volunteering:
Arbor Day Foundation: Supports tree planting and forest preservation efforts around the world, and notably offers a community tree recovery program for areas impacted by natural disasters, including Puerto Rico and Texas. In addition, the Trees in Memory and Trees in Celebration programs offer a heartfelt way to honor a loved one.
National Forest Foundation: Promotes the health and public enjoyment of U.S. National Forests. This organization is working to plant 50 million trees by 2023, and for every $1 you donate, a tree will be planted on federal lands.
The Nature Conservancy: This organization uses land acquisition as a key method in preserving lands and waters critical to the health of plants, animals, and humans. Its Plant a Billion Trees campaign aims to plant this ambitious number by 2025.
Global Trees Campaign: Mission is to prevent the extinction of endangered trees in the wild, supporting conservation initiatives benefiting more than 180 tree species in 29 countries worldwide.
Trees for the Future: Currently works with farmers living below the poverty line in Sub-Saharan Africa, although trees have been planted in 60 countries worldwide. Its Forest Garden Program plants thousands of trees, providing families with sustainable food sources, livestock feed, products to sell, fuel wood, and an average 400% increase in income over four years.
Tags: arbor day, nature, volunteer