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Arbor Day Foundation to Plant 100 Million Trees by 2022
Today is Arbor Day. That means in just three years, America's oldest environmental celebration will turn 150, and the Arbor Day Foundation is already planning a redwood-sized birthday present. The foundation, the largest non-profit dedicated to planting trees, has announced a new goal: planting 100 million trees by 2022.
"It can be easy to take trees for granted, but they are absolutely critical to maintaining balance on our planet—supporting clean air and water, healthy food and a livable climate," Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe said in a press release. "With an estimated 18 million acres of forests lost globally each year, that balance is being shaken."
The new Time for Trees initiative, officially launched March 20, is the foundation's largest tree-planting undertaking yet.
Trees are a source of shade and beauty in and of themselves, but they also have many important benefits for the whole environment, the foundation pointed out, including helping to combat climate change. The website outlined some of what the 100 million new trees will do:
- Absorb 8 million tons of carbon, the equivalent of taking 6.2 million cars off the road for a year.
- Filter 15,850 tons of particulate matter from the air.
- Filter and catch 7.1 billion cubic meters of water, enough to fill a water bottle for each person on earth every day for five years.
- Remove 578,000 tons of chemicals from the air.
The foundation hopes to plant trees in a variety of ecosystems, from tropical rainforests to towns and cities that have lost trees to extreme weather, diseases and development. It will work with corporate, community and individual partners, and hopes to get five million more tree planters involved. Its efforts will be funded and promoted by an Evergreen Alliance whose members include Bank of America, Bass Pro Shops & Cabela's, Brambles | CHEP, Church & Dwight, Exelon, FedEx, The Hershey Company, International Paper, Marriott International, Mary Kay, Oncor, PwC, Target, TD Bank, UPS, Verizon and Wyndham Destinations.
"By restoring tree loss around the world, we're making a significant investment in our collective future—paving the way for the health and well-being of people in this and future generations," Lambe said. "We cannot wait another day to take action—the time for trees is now."
The initiative is definitely in the spirit of the original holiday. The first Arbor Day was conceived in Nebraska by newspaper editor and former Nebraska territory governor Julius Sterling Morton. He arranged for one million trees to be planted in Nebraska on April 10, 1872. After the first celebration, the day spread to other states, and was moved in Nebraska to April 22 in honor of Morton's birthday 13 years after the first celebration, according to Politico.
In 1972, Richard Nixon declared it a national holiday to be celebrated the last Friday in April, CNN reported. It is now honored around the world.
"Arbor Day is not like other holidays," Morton wrote of his creation, according to Politico. "Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future."
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By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia
In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."
Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.