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The Great Wall of China, Badaling. Hrvoje Sasek / Flickr
To achieve this goal, China has reassigned more than 60,000 soldiers to plant the trees. According to the Asia Times, a large regiment from the People's Liberation Army, along with some of the nation's armed police force, have been withdrawn from their posts near the northern border to work on the task.
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A forest surrounds the Great Wall of China. Pexels
The announcement was made last week by Zhang Jianlong, the head of China's State Forestry Administration, in an effort to shed the country's image as a major polluter and become a global environmental leader, the Telegraph reported.
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Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria didn't just destroy buildings and dump several feet of water into several American communities—the powerful winds also snapped and downed innumerable trees, altering treasured landscapes.
That's why the Arbor Day Foundation launched its Hurricane Tree Recovery Campaign in an effort to help tree restoration efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico following this year's string of devastating hurricanes. The program, which debuted in October, aims to plant a total of five million trees over the next five years as a way to contribute to the rebuilding efforts in the affected communities.
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Prescribed fire in Tulare, California. USDA Forest Service
By U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Monday announced that an additional 27 million trees, mostly conifers, died throughout California since November 2016, bringing the total number of trees that have died due to drought and bark beetles to an historic 129 million on 8.9 million acres. The dead trees continue to pose a hazard to people and critical infrastructure, mostly centered in the central and southern Sierra Nevada region of the state.
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Paradise, New Zealand
New Zealand's next prime minister Jacinda Ardern has set ambitious environmental policies to confront a warming planet.
"I do anticipate that we will be a government, as I said during the campaign, that will be absolutely focused on the challenge of climate change," said Ardern, whose Labour party has signed a coalition agreement with the New Zealand First party.
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Nov. 21, 2016 02:36PM EST
Dead and dying trees on forest lands in California, August 2016. USFS Region 5 Flickr
California's six years of drought has left 102 million dead trees across 7.7 million acres of forest in its wake, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced following an aerial survey. If that is not horrendous enough, 62 million trees died in the year 2016 alone—an increase of more than 100 percent compared to 2015.
In the photo below, all the dead trees are grey or orange.
"The scale of die-off in California is unprecedented in our modern history," Randy Moore, a forester for the U.S. Forest Service, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that trees are dying "at a rate much quicker than we thought."
"You look across the hillside on a side of the road, and you see a vast landscape of dead trees," added Adrian Das, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist whose office is located in Sequoia National Park. "It's pretty startling."
Most of the dead trees are located in 10 counties in the southern and central Sierra Nevada region.
"Five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to these historic levels of tree die-off," the USFS said.
Forest Service experts believe that more trees will die in the coming months and years due to root diseases, bark beetle activity or other stress agents. The agency warned that tree deaths are on the rise in northern regions, especially in Siskiyou, Modoc, Plumas and Lassen counties.
The lack of rain and unseasonably high temperatures has added stress to the trees. These factors have made trees increasingly vulnerable to bark beetles infestations and disease.
Some have raised concerns that the staggering number of dead trees can fuel even bigger and more destructive wildfires in the Golden State.
Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack lamented that not enough resources are being invested into forest health and restoration.
"These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California," Vilsack said in a statement.
Not only that, researchers from the University of Washington found that large forest die-offs—from drought, heat, beetle infestations or deforestation—can significantly impact global climate patterns and alter vegetation on the other side of the world. The study was published this month in PLOS ONE.
"When trees die in one place, it can be good or bad for plants elsewhere, because it causes changes in one place that can ricochet to shift climate in another place," said lead author Elizabeth Garcia. "The atmosphere provides the connection."
In October 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state's unprecedented tree die-off a state of emergency. He formed a Tree Mortality Task Force to help mobilize additional resources for the safe removal of dead and dying trees.
"Dead trees can remain standing for decades or more and a standing dead tree—known as a 'snag'—provides great habitat for wildlife. Birds and mammals make their homes in openings carved within snags, while wood-boring insects that feed on snags provide the foundation of the food chain for a larger web of forest life, akin to plankton in the ocean," he wrote.
"From the perspective of the timber industry, a snag in the forest is a waste, so timber companies and the Forest Service have spent decades cutting down snags as quickly as possible," Bevington continued. "As a result, there is now a significant lack of snags in our forests and this shortage is harming woodpeckers, owls and other forest wildlife. For them, the recent pulse of snag creation is good news."
Myth, tradition, inspiration, culture, religion and many other aspects of human life are written into the rings of history within a tree's trunk. Trees would do just fine if humans ceased to exist—but humans would most definitely not survive without trees. They reduce carbon dioxide while producing oxygen, moderate ecosystems, prevent erosion, and provide shelter, building materials, energy and even nutrition. They are simply amazing.
In partnership with NBCUniversal's Green is Universal program and the Arbor Day Foundation, we bring you a breathtaking (or rather, breath-giving) tree gallery. When you share this gallery and use #ShareATree, you're helping the Arbor Day Foundation plant real trees. For every 25,000 shares, NBCUniversal will donate $5,000 to the Arbor Day Foundation, up to $25,000.
Share this awesome gallery and make our planet a little greener.
This showstopping tree looks like it was painted by a graffiti artist, but its bold colors are derived from the natural shedding of bark. Layers of bark peel away at different times of the year, revealing undertones ranging from bright green to orange. These beauties can be found all over the world but mainly in the South Pacific in tree plantations, where the eucalyptus' pulpwood is used to make paper. The tree grows six feet wide and more than a hundred feet tall and it's photogenic, to boot.
Photo credit: Libero
The Tree of Life
Because of trees' nearly innumerable benefits, people throughout time have attributed greater meaning to them. A common motif in various cultures and religions is that of the Tree of Life. Depending on where you look, the Tree of Life offers the threshold between life and death (Egypt), grants immortality once every 3,000 years (China) or supports and connects the underworld, the earth and the stars (Mesoamerica).
The Tree of Life pictured here is found in the middle of a desert in Bahrain, miles from any other living organism or source of water. It is a 400-year-old mesquite, whose roots can grow to more than 160 feet, making it resilient in arid climates. While some like to think it is the tree of good and evil mentioned in the Bible, locals attribute other spiritual powers to it and have their own occult practices surrounding it.
Whatever the case may be, astounding trees like this cause legends to flourish and attract visitors from around the world to catch a glimpse of their leafy awesomeness.
Photo credit: Wikimedia
Ever heard of the Buddha? Yeah, well, this fig tree in Bodh Gaya, India, is believed to be the tree under which Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment approximately 2,500 years ago. According to Buddhist texts, right after the Buddha achieved enlightenment, he gazed up at the tree in gratitude with unblinking eyes for an entire week. Talk about a staring contest.
Even during the lifetime of the Buddha the Bodhi Tree was seen as a sacred shrine by King Asoka, who held a festival every year in its honor. However, his queen was what some would call "the jealous type" and had it killed by Mandu thorns. But the Bodhi Tree had the last laugh when it regrew in the same spot and had a magnificent temple built next to it. Even today, the tree is the most important of four Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
Photo: Ken Wieand / Flickr
Depending on your age, you may think of Robin Hood as a dastardly fox, a witty Cary Elwes or a pouty Russell Crowe. But the locals of Edwinstone, in the heart of the Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England, don't really care what your image of him is. Robin Hood has been an important folk figure to them since the medieval period, long before movies were invented.
Some records portray him as a farmer, while others identify him as a wealthy man whose lands were wrongfully taken from him, forcing him to become an outlaw. Whatever Robin Hood's origins, the Major Oak tree is fabled to be the shelter in which he and his Merry Men slept after a long day's work of "stealing from the rich and giving to the poor."
Photo credit: Philip Wallbank / Geograph
While it may look like Baobab trees are shaped into their odd forms by imaginative horticulturists, the only hand of manipulation here is evolution. These large trees can grow up to 50 feet tall and are the natural equivalent of water towers. The trees are native to arid regions such as mainland Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Madagascar and Australia and have been used in dry seasons for the water supplies stored in hollows in the trees. The white powder in their seed pods can be used as food and their leaves have medicinal purposes.
Photo credit: iStock
What possible connection could a tree in the capital city of Sierra Leone have to the American Revolutionary War? Well, just as the Americans won independence from Great Britain, a group of African American slaves won their freedom by fighting for the British during the war.
Legend has it that the newly freed slaves landed on the shore, walked up to the giant tree and circled around it, giving thanks for their deliverance to a free land. On March 11, 1792, they founded Freetown and today it is the capital city of Sierra Leone. The Cotton Tree stands directly in front of Freetown's Supreme Court building.
Photo credit: Christian Trede / Wikimedia
Anne Frank Tree
This horse chestnut in Amsterdam provided a glimmer of beauty to Anne Frank when she needed it most. In The Diary of a Young Girl, Frank's book about the time she and her family spent hiding from the Nazis during World War II, she describes the tree:
"Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs. From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy."
The iconic tree was blown down by high winds during a storm on Aug. 23, 2010, but it missed the historic annex in which Frank and her family stayed.
Photo credit: Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect
Methuselah is like the estranged grandfather that no one in your family talks about. It is the oldest known living tree on the planet, but its location will not be revealed.
This is because an older tree, nicknamed Prometheus, was accidentally cut down in 1964. At 4,843 years old, the bristlecone pine is worth protecting, even if it means anonymity.
Photo credit: Rick Goldwasser / Flickr
El Árbol del Tule
With a bit of imagination, animals, goblins and monsters can be seen trapped in this tree's gnarly trunk, and although the trunk has the look of multiple trees fused together, it is just one amazing tree. El Árbol del Tule or the Tree of Tule, towers over Santa María del Tule, a small church in Oaxaca, Mexico. The massive Montezuma cypress may be the biggest—as in widest—tree on the planet. The circumference of the trunk spans 170 feet and the tree weighs more than 500 tons. At approximately 2,000 years old (legend has it that it was planted by an Aztec storm god), this massive tree is among the eldest in the world.
Photo credit: Cezzie901 / Flickr
Reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.
A species of elm thought to be extinct in the UK has just been discovered in one of the Queen's gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The 100-foot tall "weeping" Wentworth elms were found during a recent botanical survey of the gardens surrounding the Queen's official residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Wentworth elmRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Dr. Max Coleman of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), who identified the trees, admitted the fact that they were found in plain sight is rather odd.
The trees were thought to have been wiped-out in the devastating Dutch elm disease epidemic that destroyed between 25 and 75 million trees in Britain during the late 20th century. Since then, Coleman said the Edinburgh city council has been surveying and removing diseases elms to help fight the spread.
"Without that work many more of the thousands of elms in Edinburgh would have been lost," Coleman said. "The success of this program may be partly demonstrated in the way two rare trees have been preserved."
Now, the RBGE is trying to figure out how the trees got there. Archives have revealed that three Wentworth elms arrived at RBGE from Germany in 1902, after which all subsequent records refer to a single tree at the garden. That elm died in 1996 when it succumbed to the disease.
"It is very tempting to speculate that the Wentworth elms at the palace are the two missing trees from RBGE," Coleman said.
Coleman said anecdotal evidence indicates that there was a close relationship between the RBGE and the palace in the early 20th century, and the head gardener at Holyrood had trained at the garden.
"Although we have no record here of elms going out, we know that a large number of ivy plants went from here to Holyrood to plant round the abbey ruins," he said.
Now that the Wentworth elm species has been given a second chance at life, horticulturalists are considering ways to propagate the trees so that they can make sure a second extinction doesn't occur.