Planting One for the Millenium

Article excerpt

A new campaign spells "ReLeaf" the traditional way - through individual actions taken community by community.

What do you plan to do to celebrate the coming of the year 2000? People want their actions in the new century to lead to visible results. This is even more possible given new technology that makes global neighbors seem closer than ever.

Global ReLeaf, AMERICAN FORESTS' international citizen action and education campaign, was launched in 1988 in response to concerns over global environmental challenges. The idea that by planting trees, citizens worldwide could make a difference in the planet was novel then. Now, citizen tree groups are growing and computer programs make it possible to calculate a trees' financial and environmental benefits.

Before Global ReLeaf, community tree groups were few and projects largely ceremonial. By awakening the corporate community to the value of trees, 340 projects have been supported by $2.8 million in grants through the Global ReLeaf Fund.

Partners, such as government agencies, corporations, and non-profits, are the heart and soul of the campaign. Chevrolet-Get Environmental co-sponsors an environmental excellence award with AMERICAN FORESTS and the USDA Forest Service, supports local tree groups, and has planted thousands of trees with AMERICAN FORESTS. Texaco put employee volunteers and $2.25 million to work for urban forest research and tree planting projects in 12 cities. Outdoor outfitter Eddie Bauer sponsors eight Global ReLeaf Forest projects through an add-a-dollar promotion in stores and catalogues, with close to 350,000 trees planted so far.

As part of the campaign's goals for the new millennium, everyone is encouraged to plant a tree - around their homes, in their communities, or through Global ReLeaf. Trees cool and shade to lower energy bills, control stormwater runoff and erosion, and create a sense of community.

The goals for Global ReLeaf 2000 are to encourage the planting of 20 million trees and increase the canopy in select cities by 20 percent. So far, the 70 Global ReLeaf Forests in 33 states contain a total of 4.2 million trees. Our hope is to expand this forest-restoration program to include private lands and difficult sites like sanitary landfills.

Our urban forestry research has brought new understanding to the science of tree values. AMERICAN FORESTS' first 20-city survey, in 1985, showed urban forests in severe decline. Four trees die for every one planted in U.S. cities. The average city tree lives only 32 years - just seven years downtown. …