Magazine article American Forests

50 Million Trees

Magazine article American Forests

50 Million Trees

Article excerpt

THERE IS A CHINESE PROVERB that says "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now."

A few months ago, this proverb came alive as I stood on a mountaintop in California to plant a very special tree with the CEO of one of our longtime corporate partners, Eddie Bauer, and their philanthropic ambassador to our partnership, actor Ryan Reynolds.

Ryan, who is known for his work in movies like Deadpool, The Proposal and Woman in Gold, approached Eddie Bauer about a possible partnership to talk about the conservation work we have done together. We jumped at the opportunity. His deep love of nature and commitment to the environment make Ryan a perfect messenger for the important role that forests play in the overall health of the planet.

In 1990, American Forests started the Global ReLeaf program with a simple, compelling mission - to find threatened, ecologically important forests, and to fund tree planting initiatives that make a real difference in restoring these landscapes to health.

In November, on that mountaintop, we planted our 50 millionth tree, 25 years after the program began. To put that number in perspective, 50 million mature trees, laid end to end, could encircle the globe 30 times. Fifty million trees could forest a treeless plot of land nearly eight times the size of Manhattan. And, while 50 million might be a hard number to wrap your head around, the reality is this: every one of these trees matters. Each one is helping to clean our air and water. Each one provides oxygen for us to breathe. Each one provides food and shelter for wildlife. And, when combined together in a forest, their impact is exponentially greater.

We chose to plant our 50 millionth tree with Eddie Bauer for a number of reasons, but primarily because they are one of our most committed partners. They are a living example of the Chinese proverb. The legendary clothier began planting trees with American Forests 20 years ago. Since then, we have planted more than 6.5 million trees together in more than 150 forest restoration projects.

Much of our partnership with Eddie Bauer during the past 20 years focused on restoring forests that have been profoundly damaged by wildfire, which is the reason we chose the Mountain Communities Wildfire ReLeaf project as the site of this historical tree planting.

In the early 2000s, the communities around San Bernardino Mountain watched as waves of pine beetles made their way across the terrain, turning beautiful pine forests red as the trees lost their needles and died. …

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